JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Feb. 16, 2018) – On Tuesday, a Missouri House committee passed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, setting the foundation to nullify unconstitutional federal cannabis prohibition in practice.
Rep. James Neely (R-Cameron) introduced House Bill 1554 (HB1554) on Jan 3.The legislation would expand the state’s “Right to try Law” and provisions authorizing the use of hemp extract for qualifying patients to allow terminally ill patients to access medical marijuana.
The General Laws Committee approved HB1554 with some technical amendments by a 10-2 vote.
Missouri was one of the first states to pass a Right to Try Act. Under the law, terminally ill patients can try experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA. HB1554 would expand Right to Try to include the option of medical marijuana for these patients. The Right to Try law already nullifies in practice some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that deny access to experimental treatments by terminally ill patients. Passage of HB1554 would take the first step toward nullifying federal marijuana prohibition in effect.
Qualifying patients would be able to use medical marijuana “at the same dosage and with the same method of smokeless administration used in a clinical trial.” Dispensing organizations would be permitted to operate for the purposed of providing medical marijuana to qualifying patients. Minors would also be permitted to use medical marijuana under the strict supervision of their parents with physician or neurologist approval.
“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,” Neely said in a Missouri Net report earlier this year.
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as HB1554 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. 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 under Right to Try in Missouri would remove one small 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, Utah could sweep away a small basis 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 were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed last year.
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 anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. 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.
HB1554 will now move to the House Rules Legislative Oversight Committee where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.