Missouri has for a long time been a very conservative state in the US. Marijuana has been illegal for both medical and recreational uses until very recently. Nevertheless, Missouri was the 19th state in the country to decriminalize the possession of marijuana to some degree, the effect of which came by January of 2017.
(PLEASE NOTE 2018 MIDTERM ELECTION CHANGES TO MISSOURI STATE LAW - See the section at the end of this post.)
Since then, there have been many advocacy groups calling for the legalization of medical marijuana and it wasn’t until this year that the efforts saw some results.
On April 23, 2018, after a series of emotional debates in the Missouri House, House Bill 1554 was approved by a majority of voice vote, making it officially legal for seriously and terminally ill patients to use non-smoking forms of medical marijuana in the treatment of their medical condition.
The bill was sponsored by Jim Neely, a Republican from Cameron and also a physician at the Cameron Regional Medical Center. Neely addressed the House several times during the discussion and stated that his views about medical marijuana are strongly backed by his many years of experience in the medical industry. He also specifically said that his intention with the bill is to mainly help relieve many dying patients of their suffering.
This goes on to prove how necessary it was for Missouri to legalize medical marijuana, and how useful it can be in the medical industry in the state.
However, in spite of a clear voice majority for the bill and the approval of the bill, there are still many more barriers to overcome before it gets accepted as the law. The House is required to vote on the bill and validate approval one more time, after which it will be sent to the Senate. Only after approval at the Senate will it be signed in as a law by the Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.
Back in 2014, the Missouri legislature passed House Bill 2238, which allowed the residents of Missouri to possess, purchase and use “hemp extracts” in a limited number of situations. Hemp extracts basically refer to the extracts derived from a special kind of the marijuana sativa plant. As per this law, “hemp extracts” would be special marijuana preparations containing up to 0.3% of THC and a minimum of 5% of CBD, excluding which there would be no other psychoactive substances present in the mixture.
This law by far constitutes the prevailing Missouri medical marijuana program. In order to qualify as an eligible person for the use of medical marijuana, the following are the requirements:
- The person must be 18 years of age or older in order to qualify for the use of hemp extracts. In cases where the patient is younger than 18 years, they are required to have appropriate representation by a parent or a guardian who is above 18 years of age
- The person must be a duly registered resident of the state of Missouri and must have been born and been living in Missouri for more than a year
- The person must obtain a legitimate certification from a state-registered neurologist, who as per the law, should be a physician with a state license and also a board certification for neurology. The neurologist is required to furnish a solid medical record that clearly proves that the patient is suffering from one of the qualifying conditions for the use of hemp extracts in the treatment
The only qualifying debilitating medical condition that allows a person to apply for the medical ID card proving eligibility for the use of hemp extracts is intractable epilepsy. On diagnosis by a qualifying neurologist as prescribed the law, the person is required to apply for the ID card on the registration form available on the website of the Department of Health. Care should be taken to ensure that information provided by the patient on the form is consistent with medical record of the patient as provided by the neurologist.
The neurologist, along with providing recommendation for being treated with hemp extracts, will also have to specify the exact amount of THC concentrates or oil that the patient need to purchase from one of the state licensed dispensaries.
Other than for these approved purposes, the possession, use or cultivation of marijuana is strictly prohibited in the state of Missouri.
Violations and Penalties
Possession of marijuana starting from less than 5 grams to 100 kgs, will be charged as “criminal misdemeanor” and felony and will invite fines starting from $500 to even $20,000 and jail time up to 15 years. Possession of very small amounts of marijuana will involve a penalty fine and no jail time. In case of illegal cultivation, sale or manufacture of marijuana, the charges will be of felony and will involve fines anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000, and jail time of up to 10 years.
The possession of accessories associated with marijuana could earn a fine and jail time of one year.
Midterm Elections 2018 Update!
The midterm elections for Missouri saw a landmark change for marijuana users in the state:
'A broader offering of initiatives to voters in Missouri only passed that which allows marijuana to be medically available in the state. Even though use is limited to medical conditions, this is a good start.'
For more information detailing this important change to Missouri state Law, for recreational users of marijuana in the state of Michigan, read the post on the Marijuana Midterm Elections 2018.