Missouri medical marijuana bill is introduced
January 22, 2010
A bill to permit Missouri citizens with valid medical prescriptions to benefit from the use of marijuana without fear of criminal prosecution has been filed by Missouri Representative Kate Meiners (D-46, Kansas City). House Bill 1670 would place the issue before Missouri voters in November of 2011. A growing number of Representatives have signed on as sponsors, more support than for similar legislation previously proposed. Rep. Robert Schaaf (R-28, St. Joseph), a physician, is among the supporters. In a previous session, when the bill had only Democratic sponsorship, Speaker of the House Ron Richard failed to assign it to a committee.

The only support for the legalization of medical marijuana came in 1994 when the Missouri Senate passed SCR 14 calling on Congress to address the issue. Under current Missouri law, doctors are allowed to prescribe cocaine, opium, methamphetamine and hundreds of other recognized addictive drugs.

"It is absurd to not trust those same doctors with the ability to authorize their patients to also use a relatively safe and non-addictive substance like cannabis," Dan Viets, a spokesperson for Missouri NORML said. "Polls have strong majority support for the measure among Missouri voters."

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia now have laws that permit patients to use marijuana as medicine with the approval of their doctors. Just this week, New Jersey passed legislation that would allow its residents with cancer, glaucoma, seizure disorders and other serious illnesses to have legal access to up to two ounces of marijuana each month. The bill was signed by Jon S. Corzine, the outgoing governor of New Jersey on his last full day in office.

Last month the Democratic-controlled Congress voted to allow the Medical Marijuana Initiative that was passed in 1998 to take effect in Washington, D.C. It had previously been blocked when the GOP had control in Congress. The legislation, once implemented will allow five dispensaries to distribute up to a month's supply of marijuana to either patients or their registered caregivers with a provision that low-income patients be supplied the drug at a reduced price.

Similar legislation is pending in many other state legislatures across the country. The Illinois Senate passed a medical marijuana bill last year and it is now pending before the Illinois House.

A few months ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) reversed its longstanding opposition to the use of medicinal marijuana. Medical marijuana legislation is also supported by the American College of Physicians, American Nurses Association and dozens of other major professional and health-related organizations.

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