JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Feb. 17, 2017) – A Missouri bill would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, setting the foundation to nullify federal prohibition in practice.
Introduced by Rep. Jim Neely (R-Cameron) along with eight bipartisan co-sponsors, House Bill 437 (HB437) would expand existing laws on the books pertaining only to cannabis oil and experimental treatments to broaden those provisions to encompass medical marijuana in all of its forms. Activists in Missouri call HB437 a comprehensive medical marijuana bill with no restrictions on licensing or plant count.
“I think the timing is good. I think we have a culture that let’s try to open our eyes and let’s see what’s out there. Anybody that’s seen people suffer, there ought to be a way to maybe makes things a little bit better,” Rep. Neely said in a Missouri Net report.
Patients could access medical marijuana under HB437 if they suffer from “a persistent or recurrent disease or condition that has substantial impact on day-to-day functioning as determined by a physician.” The state department of health and senior services would eventually “publish a list of debilitating diseases or conditions for which a medical cannabis registration card may be issued.”
Dispensing organizations would be permitted to operate for the purposed of providing medical marijuana to qualifying patients. In addition, a monitoring system would be established for the purposes of “testing and data collection established and maintained by the cultivation and production facility and is available to the department for the purposes of documenting the medical cannabis production and retail sale of the medical cannabis.”
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as HB437 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of medical marijuana in Missouri would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Missouri sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Missouri could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts set to join them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states earlier this month.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
HB437 must pass the Health and Mental Health Policy Committee before it can move forward.