In Missouri, activists and patients are fighting hard for access to cannabis as medication and relief. Twelve people testified on behalf of a bill Tuesday morning that would allow terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana.
Under current Missouri law, anyone with a terminal illness may use non-traditional medicines, products or devices after exploring all FDA approved treatment options. This is due to the state’s Right to Try law, which passed in 2014.
The only treatments patients cannot use are “schedule 1” drugs, which according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, are substances with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. This includes marijuana.
Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron, the sponsor of the original “Right to Try” law, presented a revised version of that law that allows patients to use medical marijuana despite its “schedule one” classification.
“When we passed the “Right to Try,” here in 2014, we excluded this area, so I’m bringing it back up and including medical marijuana in that right now. That’s all it is, an expansion of the legislation that we approved of in 2014,” Neely said.
Many who spoke in support of the bill did not think it went far enough and wanted to grant those with non-terminal illnesses, such as veterans with PTSD, the right to use medical marijuana too. Among those who spoke to this measure was Kyle Kisner, who served in the Missouri Guard for seven years.
“We need to expand the language of this bill to allow people with debilitating conditions such as PTSD, chronic depression, insomnia. You could classify those as terminal, I probably would,” Kisner said.
Woody Cozad, a lobbyist on behalf of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, was the only one to testify against the bill. Cozad pointed to the federal laws criminalizing the use of marijuana and stated passing a law allowing medicinal use of cannabis would cause legal confusion.
“The law is supposed to be certain. Uncertainty in the law, particularly criminal law, is something you try to avoid,” Cozad said.
Rep. Jon Carpenter, D-Kansas City, brought to attention other states who have already passed laws allowing medicinal marijuana use.
“I don’t see the mass confusion happening, so I’m not sure why we would anticipate having a different experience if we were to go down this path in Missouri,” Carpenter said.