[Note: on Nov 6, 2018 Missouri approved a medical marijuana program – as details evolve, we will be updating the information below. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.]
As legislation changes in Missouri, check back to this section for information about how those legislative changes will affect the prospect of medical marijuana in Missouri.
There is a Missouri medical marijuana program, but in name only. The law states that only patients suffering from epilepsy are eligible to use cannabidiol (CBD) oil and that the oil must be derived from hemp, and not marijuana. Hemp lacks many of the medicinal qualities marijuana, and many advocates believe it is nowhere near as effective as a medicine.
In 2016, efforts were made to bring the matter of creating a real program for medical marijuana in Missouri, but the Secretary of State ruled that there were not enough valid signatures to put the initiative on the ballot. As a result, voters in the state were denied the right to choose whether or not they wanted to expand medical cannabis availability in the state.
The Secretary originally ruled that the initiative was 2,200 signatures short. After sponsors of the initiative took the matter to court, it was decided that the initiative still fell 23 signatures short.
A St. Louis television station reported in February 2017 that doctors throughout the state aren’t even willing to discuss the topic of medical cannabis, much less recommend it to their patients. Even though CBD hemp oil is legal in Missouri, many families say their doctors refuse to honor it. According to the article, fewer than 70 families have even bothered to obtain the medical cards needed in order to purchase CBD oil. The reason is that many hospitals and doctors simply refuse to provide them access, due to fears of legal entanglements.
However, the station reported that SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis has administrators and doctors who are willing to work with patients to make hemp CBD oil accessible. One doctor was quoted in the story as saying while there may be “some negatives and serious side effects” to using CBD oil, the hospital feels it is in the best interests of patients to make reasonable, safe efforts to provide them with the product.
Another limiting factor regarding the Missouri medical marijuana program is that the process to simply qualify is very burdensome. Patients must have first tried three traditional prescriptions for their epilepsy and not found any success.
While the medical marijuana program in Missouri is a source of major frustration and anger to many people, some state legislators are still working to bring the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to seriously ill people. Two legislators introduced a bill during the 2017 session that would give patients suffering from a wide range of illnesses (cancer, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Huntington’s disease and many others) access to cannabis-infused products.
SB 56 would allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to grant licenses for manufacturing, distribution, sale, and cultivation of medical marijuana. SB 153 outlines conditions that could be treated using medical marijuana.
Even though the Missouri medical marijuana program is among the most restrictive in the entire country, the state has at least made some common-sense movement toward decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot.
In 2017, a new law went into effect that makes possession of fewer than 35 grams of pot punishable by a fine of between $250 and $1,000. While that’s still substantial, the penalty does not include any jail time. However, if anyone is caught with more than 35 grams (an amount equivalent to just about 1.25 ounces), that’s considered a felony offense that is punishable by as many as seven years in jail and a fine of as much as $5,000.
Our section on Missouri’s marijuana laws provides comprehensive information on the penalties associated with weed possession.