By Dan Viets, J.D., SMCR Board Chair
A bill which would allow patients who have a doctor's written certification of a legitimate medical need to possess, use and cultivate marijuana for the treatment of serious medical conditions has been filed in the Missouri House of Representatives. House Bill 688 was filed recently by Representative Mike Colona of Saint Louis along with three co-sponsors, including Representative Chris Kelly of Columbia. HB 688 would permit patients who have a physician's certification to cultivate up to three mature plants, along with four immature plants and one ounce of usable marijuana for each mature plant. Conditions for which a physician could certify medical need include multiple sclerosis, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, severe nausea, severe pain and severe and persistent muscle spasms or any other serious medical condition.
In regard to employment or driving an automobile, the bill specifies that patients authorized to use cannabis medically will be subject to the same legal standards and restrictions as people taking other authorized pharmaceutical medications.
As in previous years, this bill would need to be submitted to the voters of the state in the election in November 2014 or at a special election. It would become effective after approval by a majority of votes cast in that election. This provision is intended to make it easier for legislators to approve the measure by leaving it up to the voters of the state whether to approve the law.
There are two bills pending in the Missouri General Assembly which would restore eligibility for food stamps for people convicted of drug-related felonies involving possession or use of prohibited substances. Many, if not most of these are people convicted of cannabis offenses.
In the House, this legislation is HB 529. In the Senate, it is SB 346.
SB 346 was heard in a Senate committee on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 6. Several witnesses spoke in favor of the bill and it is believed that the Committee Chair supports the bill. Therefore, this bill may reach the floor of the Senate for a vote in the near future.
Another bill of interest to SMCR supporters is HB 46 presented by Representative Guernsey and known as the "Unwarranted Surveillance Act." This bill would require law enforcement officers to obtain a search warrant before using drone aircraft to engage in surveillance of private property. The bill has a great deal of support from agricultural interests and associations. This bill has already been voted out of the House Agri-Business Committee where it received an enthusiastic recommendation for passage by the full House. Therefore, HB 46 may soon come before members of the Missouri House of Representatives for a floor vote in that chamber.