By Dan Viets
The League of Women Voters of Missouri at its State Convention recently endorsed two policies for reform of marijuana laws in our state. Both reform positions were endorsed by a vote of more than two-thirds of the delegates at the State Convention.
These policies were first endorsed by the Columbia/Boone County League of Women Voters which appointed a Study Committee on marijuana issues which I served on several years ago. The support of the local LWV was very helpful in the successful campaign to pass a local decriminalization ordinance and a local medical marijuana ordinance through the initiative process in Columbia in November of 2004.
I attended the State Convention and spoke in support of these two resolutions and answering questions about them. I have been a member of the League of Women Voters for many years and I urge others to join the League. The delegates to the Convention voted to separate these positions into two separate resolutions.
The first measure endorsed by the LWV-MO relates to medical use of marijuana. The policy states that the League supports, "... legislation which allows marijuana for medical treatments when approved by a physician." The League position further supports, "... moving marijuana from schedule one on the Controlled Substance Act list to a schedule that allows physicians to prescribe it." The League further supports, "... measures to allow patients to legally obtain marijuana for medical use" and supports "... the continuation and expansion of research on the effects of the marijuana plant on the human body."
A second separate measure endorsed by the League supports, "... adequate funding for effective prevention education and treatment programs and an emphasis on marijuana abuse treatment programs in preference to punishment and incarceration." The position further supports, "... the use of drug courts and law reforms that reduce penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana." The League also supports, "... efforts to keep marijuana out of the hands of our children, to remove the criminal element from the distribution process, and to advocate measures to manage the production of marijuana in order to control its purity and strength." Some other state League of Women Voters' organizations have taken similar positions, including the Washington State LWV.
In this writer's opinion, the only way to remove the criminal element from distribution, manage production and control purity and strength is clearly through a system of legal regulation of production and sales. That is what four states, Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia have done. Ohio and Michigan may do so this November. Several other states are expected to do so in November of 2016.
The League of Women Voters is one the most highly respected non-partisan civic organizations in America. The endorsement by the League of these reform measures adds an important component to the coalition of organizations endorsing both medical marijuana and a legal system of distribution and regulation of cannabis for adults.
We should all call upon our local League of Women Voters organizations to actively work to accomplish the goals set out in the policies which are now officially endorsed by this respected state-wide organization.