Maybe it’s true what they say about marijuana. It seemed to bring about a case of the lazies in our state lawmakers.

Our elected officials are a sober bunch — at least when it comes to marijuana — so there’s no need for a potato chip and cartoon marathon.

Marijuana does, however, seem to bring about a lack of initiative in legislation that deals with the drug itself.

The result is a crazy patchwork of enforcement that can vary from county to county. Jackson County, for instance, doesn’t prosecute most marijuana possession cases. Buchanan County does, though jail time is a rarity for minor possession.

Now, a new law that removes hurdles to agricultural hemp is adding to the confusion. Livingston County no longer prosecutes misdemeanor marijuana cases because it’s impossible to distinguish between small amounts of illegal marijuana and legal hemp that contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

Other states, including Nebraska, have run into a similar issue. (Some Nebraska football players were able to beat the rap, for now, because of the lab testing issue).

In Missouri, the problem isn’t the hemp law. It’s a Missouri Crime Lab that remains overwhelmed and underfunded.

Whatever your stance on marijuana, you can’t blame those in the crime lab for prioritizing backlogged rape kits over minor marijuana cases.

You can wonder how it came to this.

Some would say it’s best for lawmakers to back off and let the legalization train roll through. Privately, lawmakers suggest that a legalization ballot initiative is inevitable, so why bother?

To those who think it’s best to passively sit by and wait for a voter referendum, we would point to the failure of ethics legislation a few years back.

Now, the state is advertising for an unelected demographer with unseemly clout to redraw election boundaries.

Lawmakers had a chance to consider medical marijuana when state Rep. Jim Neely, a Republican who was leery of legalization but also saw the therapeutic benefits for his elderly patients, proposed a narrow measure with limits on the drug’s use.

It went nowhere, so voters took matters into their own hands. Unlike the legislative version, the voter-approved measure allows medicinal cannabis for specifics like cancer, intractable migraines and glaucoma plus “any other medical condition.”

That means the hunt is on for a sympathetic doctor. Colorado tried medical marijuana for a couple of years then legalized everything after a large number of men in their 20s began to be diagnosed for vague chronic-pain conditions.

Lawmakers might not be able to stop the well-funded legalization train, but they should climb aboard and try to influence the outcome with reasonable regulation before they get steamrolled again at the polls.

Copyright St. Joseph News Press. Reprinted with permission.

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