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Medical marijuana on November ballot for Missouri; House candidates weigh in

June 1, 2018 – A bill that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes initially passed the Missouri House of Representatives, but was allowed to die on the Senate floor, meaning the issue will be turned over to voters in November.

The legalization of medical marijuana in smokeless form was added as an amendment to a healthcare bill by Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron. Neely’s amendment would have allowed Missourians with terminal illnesses to access medical marijuana. It passed out of the House with expanded provisions that would allow people with other conditions, including cancer, Parkinson’s and epilepsy, to utilize medical marijuana.

Neely is a physician who has worked in hospice care. He also lost a daughter to cancer three years ago. The point of the amendment, Neely said, was to provide comfort to Missourians who need it.

The candidates for the 38th District of the House of Representatives, which includes most of Excelsior Springs, weighed in with their views on the potential legalization of marijuana in Missouri.

Doug Richey, Republican candidate

Doug RIchey

Doug Richey is the Republican candidate for House District 38.


“Our communities have a vested interest in getting the issue of non-recreational, smokeless, medical marijuana defined and addressed correctly. If verifiable evidence exists indicating that certain medical conditions can truly be managed or cured by the use of medical marijuana, we owe it to our neighbors to open the way to successful treatment. If such evidence does not yet exist, we owe it to our neighbors to protect against unverified promises.

“The FDA has approved three synthetic, smokeless forms of THC for prescription use. Beyond these treatments and a recent recommended approval of an epilepsy drug containing cannabidiol, the FDA continues to conclude that evidence has not yet been provided to substantiate the claims that botanical marijuana in its entirety is safe and effective for medical conditions. This conclusion is further supported by the opposition to legalizing medical marijuana by the American Medical Association, American Glaucoma Society, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, among a host of others. According to these entities, proponents of medical marijuana are making claims without adequate substantiation. Until verifiable data is available to prove these claims, along with processes to verify THC levels per dose being marketed and sold in ‘pot shops,’ I believe we ought to pay the price of patience. Patience is not easy, especially when loved ones are suffering from medical conditions, while relief is promised by proponents of medical marijuana. Yet, we owe it to one another to make sure that our loved ones are provided safe, verified amounts of medicine that have passed an objective vetting process to substantiate the claims of those who stand to profit from its dispensing.

“One final thought: The Kearney-Holt CAN, Liberty Alliance for Youth, and the Excelsior Springs SAFE coalitions, each made up by local schools, medical/mental health professionals, law enforcement, and churches, are working to protect children by promoting drug-free communities. They are convinced by verifiable data that significant problems lurk beyond the passage of any of these medical marijuana ballot initiatives. Again, standing with these and the aforementioned entities, I think caution and patience are the appropriate responses to the issue of legalizing whole, botanical marijuana for medicinal treatment. Those bank-rolling medical marijuana have the opportunity to prove their case. They should follow the ​FDA’s process, and then we can start writing the scripts.”

Abby Zavos, Democratic candidate

Abby Zavos

Abby Zavos is the Democratic candidate for House District 38.


“I support legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri. Studies have shown that, in states where medical marijuana is available, both opioid addiction and healthcare costs are lowered. It’s been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions, and it’s been used safely around the world for thousands of years. A majority of other states have made the sensible choice to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients who would benefit from it, and Missouri should join them.”

Marijuana across the nation

Currently, 29 states plus D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Of those 29 states, nine plus D.C. also allow recreational use of the drug. A 2017 poll from Gallup shows that 64 percent of Americans support legalization.

Those in opposition point to the marked increase of marijuana-related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room visits in states like Colorado, where marijuana is legal both medicinally and recreationally. Studies also show that the black market for marijuana actually increased in Colorado after legalization, and numerous state marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption.

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

By Samantha Kilgore •

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