Medical marijuana could be taking a big step forward in the Show Me State now that the Missouri House voted in favor of a medical marijuana bill. This is the latest development in the state’s ongoing debate over cannabis.
Missouri’s Medical Marijuana Bill
The bill to legalize medical marijuana went up for a vote in the Missouri House earlier today. It passed by a 112-44 vote. As a result, the bill will now move on to the state Senate, where it will go through another round of votes.
The bill calls for a number of big changes to Missouri cannabis laws. In particular, if the bill becomes law it would make it legal for people 18 years and older who have a terminal health condition to access medical cannabis.
Similarly, patients with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, PTSD and a handful of other conditions would be allowed to participate in the program. At this point, the bill would only allow for patients to use non-smokable forms of medical cannabis.
In the months leading up to today’s vote, advocates and opponents of medical marijuana have both spoken up. Those in favor of the bill have argued that it would give patients access to an important form of medicine that would benefit them greatly.
On the other hand, opponents of the bill have suggested that medical marijuana would put young people at risk. They argue that a legal medical marijuana program would make it too easy for children and teens to get their hands on weed.
Cannabis in Missouri
Today’s vote is the latest step in Missouri’s slowly evolving approach to cannabis law. In 2014, the state passed the Missouri Medical Marijuana Bill. This allowed patients with severe epilepsy to use CBD oil.
That same year, lawmakers tried to limit the severity of weed laws, making it so that first-time cannabis offenders would not serve jail time. This change went into effect until 2017.
Most recently, cannabis advocates in Missouri have been working hard over the past couple of years to advance the possibility of legalizing recreational weed, on top of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program.
For example, last year the advocacy group New Approach Missouri circulated a petition to get a recreational bill on the ballot later this year. The petition received widespread support and hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Final Hit: Missouri House Votes in Favor of Medical Marijuana Bill
According to local Missouri news source KMOV St. Louis, the state’s current medical marijuana bill could be about more than strictly marijuana.
In particular, the news outlet said that “the bill is partially a response to ballot initiatives that aim to give voters the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana outside of the Legislature’s control.”
There has been a lot of attention given to states that have attempted to legalize weed entirely through the legislative process, without going to a popular vote. Some have hailed such moves as a particularly effective way to achieve legalization. Others have voiced concern over a process that explicitly cuts popular opinion out of the equation.
In any case, the legislative process in Missouri has been relatively active in recent months. Before today’s vote, lawmakers went back and forth making amendments to the state’s current medical marijuana bill. Last week, lawmakers introduced a round of amendments that expanded the list of health conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana.