By Dan Viets, JD, Chair of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation
A bill to legalize the limited use of marijuana as medicine and a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana were both filed in the Missouri General Assembly on Monday, January 13. The primary sponsor of both bills is Representative Rory Ellinger of University City.
House Bill 1324 would add Missouri to the quickly growing list of 22 states which now have some form of legal marijuana use for medical purposes, as does the District of Columbia. New York is the most recent state to join the list following executive action by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The bill would eliminate penalties for those who use marijuana pursuant to a recommendation by a licensed physician for the treatment of serious medical conditions.
It is anticipated that the medical marijuana bill will be assigned to the Health Care Policy Committee chaired by Representative Keith Frederick.
House Bill 1325 is based on the ordinance passed by the voters of the City of Columbia in 2004. It eliminates arrests in favor of the issuance of a summons. The bill would also eliminate the possibility of a jail sentence for possession of small amounts and encourages the Courts specifically to substitute community service work, drug counseling and other more constructive alternatives.
The decriminalization bill is expected to be assigned to the House Downsizing State Government Committee chaired by Representative Paul Curtman of Pacific, Missouri.
A very similar bill was heard in that committee last year very late in the session. It is hoped that an early hearing of the bill may take place this year.
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