It's time to pass medical marijuana bill in Missouri

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Politicians and pundits alike are fond of quoting the phrase, "There is more that unites us than divides us."

But I'm beginning to question those oft-repeated words.

Granted, on universal themes - Peace on Earth, etc. - there is certainly agreement.

Yet with each passing day, it seems that we arrive at issues on which there is polarizing opinions and vocal disagreements.

Where do you want to start?

How about medical marijuana.

A bill to legalize medical marijuana is making its way through the Missouri Legislature and from early indications, it looks like it might just pass.

The bill - drafted by a Republican legislator and doctor - currently has 14 co-sponsors including 10 Republicans.

Here's how it would work.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services would issue medical cannabis registration cards to any Missouri resident, 18 years or older, who suffers from a terminal illness. The resident would require a signed statement from a doctor indicating the treatment would be beneficial.

The measure would also allow parents of minor children suffering from "intractable epilepsy" or a terminal illness to obtain medical marijuana.

The bill under consideration would not legalize recreational marijuana, the sponsors are quick to point out.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse said they believe that "anyone with a serious illness that has not responded to conventional therapies should be able to try marijuana if a licensed physician has good reason to believe it could offer relief from infirmity."

The Missouri Legislature came close to passing a similar measure two years ago but fell short in the closing hours and the bill died.

The momentum seems different this year.

Currently 29 states have approved medical marijuana legislation and a massive national poll last year showed voters overwhelmingly - 94 percent - support such legislation.

It is time to pass this bill and make medical marijuana available to those Missouri residents who desperately need help.

Rep. Holly Rehder tells me she supports the legislation and I applaud her stance, as should all voters in this district.

I have known personally of patients who would have benefitted from medical marijuana but for some, unfortunately this legislation is coming too late.

Medical marijuana is not a cure. But it can provide some essential relief to terminal ill patients and others.

It is time Missouri recognizes the benefits of this measure and allows Missouri residents another tool to help their desperate needs.

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