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Bi-partisan sponsorship medical marijuana in Missouri: House Bill 1670

A bill to permit Missouri citizens whose doctors believe they benefit from the use of marijuana as medicine to do so without fear of criminal prosecution and imprisonment has been filed by Representative Kate Meiners of Kansas City. The bill has more sponsors than ever before, with 16 House members signing onto the bill, including Republican Representative Robert Schaaf, a physician from St. Joseph.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia now have laws which permit patients to use marijuana as medicine with the approval of their doctors. Just this week, New Jersey’s legislature passed such a bill and the Governor has announced his intention to sign it. A few weeks ago, Congress voted to allow the D.C. Medical Marijuana Initiative to take effect there.

In past years, when the bill had only Democratic sponsorship, House Speaker Ron Richard failed to assign the bill to a committee. With the bipartisan sponsorship the bill now has, it is hoped that the Speaker will assign the bill to a committee promptly and allow it an opportunity to be heard.

Similar legislation is pending in many other state legislatures across the country. The Illinois Senate passed a medical marijuana bill last year and it is now pending before the House in that state.

A few months ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) reversed its longstanding opposition to the use of marijuana as medicine. The AMA now supports allowing marijuana to be prescribed and acknowledges that it has proven medical use. Medical marijuana legislation is also supported by the American College of Physicians, American Nurses Association and dozens of other major professional and health-related

House Bill 1670 would place the issue before Missouri voters in November of 2011. In 1994, the Missouri Senate passed SCR 14 which called on Congress to make marijuana available for medical use. Under current Missouri law, doctors are allowed to prescribe cocaine, opium, methamphetamine and hundreds of other potentially dangerous addictive drugs. Supporters of the bill say it is absurd to not trust those same doctors with the ability to authorize their patients to also use a relatively safe and non-addictive substance like cannabis. Polls have strong majority support for the measure among Missouri voters.

By Dev Meyers

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