Missouri House introduces medical marijuana bill

Thursday, January 21, 2010 | 6:10 p.m. CST; updated 7:45 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 21, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — A House Republican and physician wants to make Missouri the 15th state to permit medical marijuana.

Rep. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, who has been a family physician in northwest Missouri since 1985, is one of 15 co-sponsors of a bill that would adjust laws pertaining to the classification of marijuana as a controlled substance in order to allow its use for medical purposes.

Missouri would follow New Jersey, which passed similar legislation last week, and 13 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to ease patients' chronic pain and nausea.

The active chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is currently available to patients at a high cost, but Schaaf said regular cannabis is less expensive and has been found to be more effective.

"We owe it to our terminally ill patients to provide the most effective treatment," he said.

Rep. Kate Meiners, D-Jackson County, is sponsoring the bill, which was read for the second time on Tuesday and has not yet been assigned to a committee. Last year, Meiners' medical marijuana bill was effectively killed by not receiving a committee hearing. 

The bill returns this session, however, with more co-sponsors, including Schaaf. In addition to being the bill's only Republican co-sponsor, Schaaf is also a member of the House's Health Care Policy Committee.

Since last session, President Barack Obama also widened the door for the bill to pass when he told federal prosecutors not press charges against medical marijuana users if done in a state where it's legal. The federal law maintains cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical use. Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroine and LSD.

Schaaf stressed that the bill would not legalize marijuana overall.

"Most people don't understand the issue," he said. 

Schaaf also added that he think the bill won't pass as written.

Last November, the American Medical Association, often cited by the Drug Enforcement Administration, reversed its long-standing policy on marijuana.

According to its report, the association "urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines." However, the association does not endorse medical marijuana programs at the state level.

Missouri Department of Public Safety and the office of Attorney General Chris Koster could not be reached for comment.

Opposition is concerned that legalizing medical marijuana will make policing the drug more difficult.

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Bob Frapples January 21, 2010 | 8:13 p.m.

It's about time!

(Report Comment)
Sherry Cooper January 22, 2010 | 8:35 a.m.

The federal government has a patent on Cannabis. Voice your opinion and email the person who blocked it in 2009. Ron Richards Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr. Richards says there are no votes for Medical Cannabis in MO.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking January 22, 2010 | 9:51 a.m.

Sherry Cooper wrote:

"The federal government has a patent on Cannabis."

This is a link to the patent on cannabis. Actually, it is not a patent on cannabis per se (you can't patent a naturally occuring plant), but it is a patent on uses of some chemicals found within the plant.


(Report Comment)
tom layton February 4, 2010 | 1:31 p.m.

You know,you would think that we would leave it up to
the individual who happens to have a medical condition
on how he would like to deal with his pain.I'm not so
sure about some of this medicine we put in our body to
begin with is any good for us.If it helps the person
deal with their pain,then so be it.Thats their decision
as a human being and should be their choice.I say let
these people who need it to enjoy the rest of their life,
let'em,they aren't hurting you in anyway but helping

(Report Comment)
ryan hurtgen March 1, 2010 | 11:36 p.m.

This would be one of the best things in a while. I suffer from be-nine tremors which are uncontrollable. I was born with it,and every year mine have gotten worse. I can no longer TIG weld, and since then i switched to being an electrician. It makes it very hard to do my other job tasks. I can't even fill my cup over half way just to drink water. Marijuana is the only thing that has ever stopped my tremors cold, but since the birth of my son 8 years ago I stopped in fear of what might happen to my son and my job. I never had to do it while at work. it was always before i went to bed in the privacy of my own home. I hope this gets passed it could help so many other people that need the help.

(Report Comment)
Gary Plaskett October 12, 2010 | 3:50 p.m.

WTF do Politicians do? WE ARE THE PEOPLE. Us not them. IF we say yes, then it so shall be done. I had a friend who's dad suffered from Parkinson's I say had because he's no longer with us. Who are they to say NO! of course he smoked anyway, and it made him coup with the pain. well that and a little tequila. But the point remains the same!! Were do we sign, who do we have to kick out of office to let the voice of the people be heard. WE ARE THE PEOPLE.

(Report Comment)

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