Two Medical Marijuana Bills Filed in Missouri

Most notable difference between the two proposals is that one allows home cultivation of cannabis by patients, the other does not

Scott Gacek | December 26, 2016

Two lawmakers in Missouri have filed proposals for the upcoming 2017 legislation to legalize medical marijuana and create a comprehensive statewide medical cannabis program.
The two bills, Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City), and Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph), were pre-filed earlier this month.  With Republicans holding a super-majority in the state Senate, SB 153 could have the upper hand, however.
Passage of either of these bills could finally bring a true medical marijuana program to Missouri. In 2014, Missouri lawmakers passed a limited medical marijuana bill to allow some patients with intractable epilepsy access to products containing marijuana extracts with THC amounts below 0.3%.
Voters in Missouri narrowly missed out on a chance to vote on a comprehensive medical marijuana bill in the November elections when thousands of signatures collected by proponents were invalidated in court, leaving the measure off the ballot.  Polling results released in June found that 62% of Missouri voters supported the referendum, with only 27% opposed, making it highly likely that it would have been approved by voters had they gotten the chance to do so.   Senate Bill 56 is very similar to the proposal that would have appeared on the November ballot.
Here’s a look at the details of the two proposals filed in advance of the 2017 Regular Session, which starts on January 4, and ends May 30.
Senate Bill 56
Holsman’s SB 56 would allow the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to “grant licenses for the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana for medical use.”  The department would be responsible for overseeing the medical marijuana program.
Under SB 56, retail sales of medical marijuana would be subject to a four percent tax, which would used to pay for the administration of the medical marijuana program. Any surplus revenue from collected taxes would go to the Missouri Veterans Commission to be used for health and care services for military veterans.
The bill would establish a statewide medical marijuana program, including licenced cultivators, processors and dispensaries.  For patients purchasing marijuana at dispensaries, DHSS would be authorized to set a limit on how much marijuana is purchased in a thirty day period, but that limit can not be less than six ounces, according to the bill.  In addition, any patient needing to purchase more marijuana than is allowed by state rules would be able to do so with recommendations from two physicians.
In addition to buying medical marijuana from dispensaries, patients and caregivers would be allowed to grow up to six flowering cannabis plants and maintain a 90-day supply of marijuana.  Again, two doctors can override the 90-day supply limit if necessary for the patient’s needs.
Unlike many medical marijuana bills introduced in the conservative southern states, Senate Bill 56 allows for medical marijuana use for a broad spectrum of ailments, giving physicians latitude when deciding if cannabis therapy is a viable treatment.
Qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana would include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatments, chronic medical conditions that cause sevre muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome), debilitating psychiatric disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), HIV/AIDS, any terminal illness, or any “chronic, debilitating, or otherwise equivalent condition, including but not limited to hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, and wasting syndrome.”
In addition, any chronic medical condition that is treated with a prescription medication that “could lead to physical or psychological dependence” would also qualify for medical marijuana if the patient’s doctor determines that medical marijuana could be effective in treating the condition as a safer alternative to pharmaceuticals.
Minors under the age of 18 would be allowed into the medical marijuana program with the recommendation of their physician and parental consent, but would not be allowed to purchase medical marijuana on their own. Only their parents or legal guardians would be allowed to purchase their medicine.
The bill also provides specific protections for organ transplant patients, who would not be allowed to be denied a transplant because of their status as a medical marijuana patient.
Unlike recently enacted medical marijuana laws in Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania, SB 56 does not ban patients from smoking marijuana.
The full text of Senate Bill 56 can be found here.
Senate Bill 153
Schaaf’s SB 153 is an identical refiling of last year’s Senate Bill 912 and House Bill 2625, neither of which received a hearing or vote.
Under the proposal, qualifying patients would be allowed to possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana, as determined by their doctor.
Qualifying conditions would include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, severe migraines, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis,  damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain; severe nausea, seizures, and severe or persistent muscle spasms.
SB 153 does not specifically ban smoking or access to cannabis flowers, but it requires physicians to determine delivery and consumption methods for their patients.   Doctors recommending medical marijuana to their patients would need to include in the certification “the form of medical marijuana the patient should consume, including the method of consumption and any particular strain, vairety, quantity or percentage of marijuana or active ingredient and the appropriate dosage.”
Senate Bill 153 does not allow patients to grow their own cannabis.
The full text of SB 153 can be found here.

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