Four Cannabis Bills Advance in General Assembly!
On Wednesday, Missouri legislative committees approved four separate cannabis law reform bills. We already wrote to you about HB 978, which would free Jeff Mizanskey, who is serving life without parole for a non-violent cannabis offense, and was approved by the House Corrections Committee on Wednesday morning. As the day progressed, so did three other pro-reform bills.
The House Emerging Issues Committee approved HB 800, which would legalize medical cannabis and create a very tightly regulated system for its cultivation and distribution, with a “Do Pass” recommendation. Ten committee members voted in support, with only one representative against.
The bill passed on to the Select Committee on General Laws with two amendments from the previous version, making what has already been touted as “the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the country” into something that is even less friendly to patients’ needs. The original bill would have allowed patients to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana (just over 70 grams) while the new law would only permit patients a mere 30 grams of medicine each month. The new version also slightly altered the definition of “cannabis” so that synthetics are not included in the definition, and it removes Hepatitis C as an ailment and a number of symptoms such as chronic pain and nausea for which marijuana can be recommended as a treatment.
Many of these changes serve to only make medical marijuana more restrictive to the people who need it. Although we don’t support making the laws more narrow, we are still hopeful that HB 800 will move forward, and that issues can be addressed as things progress. We encourage you to contact your legislators today and tell them you support medical marijuana in Missouri, and you hope for a law that best protects Missouri patients in need.
The House Economic Development and Business Attraction and Retention Committee passed out HB 830, the House bill which would legalize industrial hemp, with a “Do Pass” recommendation. The committee also made a positive adjustment to who would be allowed to grow industrial hemp. Under the original law, a person would have to have maintained a property or residence in Missouri for at least five years and not been convicted of a felony or any misdemeanor drug offense. Both of these provisions have been omitted, removing a potential unnecessary barrier to employment for many Missourians who have been unfortunate to be caught in the criminal justice system for minor offenses.
Finally, SB 386, which will expand the ailments for which CBD oil could be recommended, as well as increase the number of cultivators from two to ten and dispensaries from six to thirty, passed in its original form out of the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee. Again, the bill passed out of committee with a “Do Pass” recommendation, just like the other marijuana-related bills moving forward this week.
Each of these bills still face several steps to becoming official law, but there is no doubt that Missouri is on the cusp of substantial cannabis policy reforms. Whether in two months or two years, there is going to be a switch, like a light flipping on, that will open a new market in Missouri. And while there is no doubt our first steps to legalization in Missouri will be imperfect, the point should be made that things are inching closer to a legal market. Three years ago, one could not have imagined this conversation going so far in Jefferson City.
Today, we have strong recognition across Missouri’s broad demographic groups from farmers to laborers to health professionals and law enforcement. The reallocation of resources toward scientific research for cannabis as a medicine and industrial crop is increasingly appealing, and means jobs for our state.
Right now, we need to keep the heat on Missouri legislators to make sure the voices of people are being heard. Please help us keep these bills moving forward by making a contribution of $10, $25, or $50 now! Or pledge to support Show-Me Cannabis now with a $10, $25 or $100 monthly donation!
Those of you in the Saint Louis area, don’t forget about our legislative update cocktail fundraiser at Cafe Napoli on the evening of Wednesday, March 18, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Show-Me Cannabis Executive Director John Payne will give some brief remarks about this progress, and we will also hear from some of the witnesses who have testified in favor of medical cannabis, including psychotherapist Linda Pevnick and former Missouri VFW commander Tom Mundell.
Attendees will also be treated to appetizers and beer and wine. There will be a $100 recommended contribution to help support our work to advance cannabis law reform in the legislature. Seating is limited, so make your contribution today!