Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Missouri lawmakers introduce medicinal marijuana bill

Missouri could become the next state to allow the use of medical

A new bill sponsored by Rep. Kate Meiners, D-Kansas City, proposed to
legalize marijuana use for medical purposes. The bill stated medical
marijuana should be prescribed for a debilitating medical condition such
as cancer, HIV, hepatitis C or Alzheimer's disease.

If passed, this legislation would outline a system for registration of
patients using marijuana for medical purposes, and it would require the
state Department of Health and Senior Services to keep a confidential
list of all patients with access to the drug.

Rep. Robert Schaaf, the lone Republican co-sponsoring the bill,
supported the use of medical marijuana because it costs less than other
forms of treatment and can be more effective.

"It's up to us to ensure that Missouri citizens don't get unfairly
prosecuted for providing something that's greatly needed by our sickest
patients," he said.

Schaaf, who was a medical professional for 25 years, said the primary
use of medicinal marijuana is to relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy.

"I can tell you that this would benefit a lot of people, but we really
need to have very strict controls to ensure that it doesn't open the
door to huge illegal use of the drug," Schaaf said.

Rep. Margo McNeil, D-St. Louis, decided to co-sponsor the bill because
of a constituent who wanted her cancerous mother to have legal access to
the plant that helped another relative in Colorado, a state that has
passed laws for the legal use of medical marijuana.

Although the bill has 16 co-sponsors, Schaaf said it would make it to
committee, let alone pass into law. He said he is not in favor of the
bill's language and many people don't understand the issue.

"I co-sponsored the bill in an effort to raise awareness and help
educate the public," Schaaf said.

McNeil also siad the bill will not pass this year. For it to succeed in
the future, she said the support of medical groups, as well as a
grassroots movement, would be needed.

"I think we need to have some discussion, and so having the bill out
there and allowing people to at least be introduced to the idea is a
good idea," she said.

MU National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a campus
organization that advocates marijuana policy reform, also supports the

"Passage of this bill would finally allow doctors the choice to
recommend this safe drug to their patients," President Kellie Smith
said. "We believe that doctors should prescribe medicine, not

This is an important issue people should be educated about and aware of,
she said.

"The important thing is that we are making progress, we are keeping the
argument alive, and letting people know that marijuana has medicinal
value," Smith said.

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