Missouri’s legislature has several bills related to cannabis to review before the legislative session ends on May 15. The legislation would provide relief to patients with epilepsy or veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions. Another bill would let farmers begin growing industrial hemp, which could grow millions of dollars in profit out of Missouri’s rich soil.
Additionally, a ballot initiative in 2016 could ask for a Constitutional amendment to create a legal framework for adult use of cannabis, treating the production and sale of cannabis like alcohol for adults over 21.
MO lawmakers contemplate benefits of medical cannabis
Missouri legislators will look at the potential to legalize medical cannabis for thousands of ill Show-Me Staters.
HB 800 – The Missouri Compassionate Care Act successfully cleared two committees of the House of Representatives earlier this session. The legislation would allow up to 30 licenses to grow and distribute cannabis medicines in Missouri. Insiders expect HB 800 could receive a vote on the Floor of the House.
A separate bill, HB 930 – The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act would create a legal framework similar to Illinois’. Medical cannabis would be taxed at 8% of the purchase price. The bill was introduced by Keith English, an independent legislator from Florissant. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Jason Holsman, a Democrat from Kansas City. That bill, SB 395, was introduced in early April and is scheduled to be heard before the committees on Health and Veterans Affairs.
- These laws have the potential to create a brand new, and very profitable industry from the ground up while at the same time removing patients from the black market and providing compassionate care.
- Upon introducing HB 800, Dave Hinson, a Republican from St. Clair, “It is time to accept that medical cannabis is an effective treatment option.” The bill would allow a patient to carry up to one ounce of medical marijuana over a two week period.
Compassionate Care for Epilepsy Patients
In early 2015, the Missouri Department of Agriculture gave approval to two non-profit organizations to begin growing cannabis plants that will be used to make CBD oil for epilepsy patients in the state.
Both license holders, Beleaf from St. Peters and Noah’s Ark from Chesterfield, must have no fewer than three dispensary locations throughout the state, despite the small customer base.
- Creating a legal cannabis market for a wider variety of illnesses would give businesses a greater customer base to draw from, ensuring the long term success of the small industry.
- Rep. Caleb Jones, a Republican from California, Missouri introduced HB 2283 bill last year. Its justification for passing is based on evidence suggest cannabidiol may be effective at reducing the severity and frequency of seizures.
- Medical cannabis can only be sold as CBD oil. It cannot be sold as flower or edible or infused products. CBD oil must contain no less than 5% cannabidiol by weight and no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
- While the bill passed with very little opposition, critics say it must be fundamentally revised for it to be practical, allow the industry to grow, and serve all the patients who need good medicine.
Missouri’s legislative session ends on May 15, and both the House and Senate could pass many bills in quick session.
Industrial Hemp Grown By Missouri Farmers?
Last month the Missouri House of Representatives passed HB830 with wide support (104-41). The bill would create a legal, industrial hemp market allowing farmers to grow the crop in Missouri soil. Considering the industrial hemp market is worth an estimated $600 million each year, the change in policy could be a substantial revenue maker for the state government. The law would also make it a crime to grow hemp without a license.
Licenses would be issued by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The legislation still needs to be passed through the Senate and signed by Gov. Jay Nixon before it could become a new crop opportunity for the Show-Me State’s farmers.
Constitutional Amendment would legalize adult use
House Joint Resolution 15 was filed back in January by Democrat Rep. Brandon Ellington from Kansas City. The bill would create a system to regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol for adults over 21 years old, as well as allow retail and cultivation.
This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would go before the voters on the November 2016 ballot.
- Leaving the issue of a legal, recreational cannabis market in the hands of the voters is how Colorado passed the amendment. During the first year of a legal, recreational and regulated market the state collected over $75 million in taxes from both commercial sales and industry fees.