Missouri Democrat Kills Medical Marijuana Bill

Missouri’s medical marijuana legislation went up in smoke this week after one Democrat asked for the measure to be removed from a healthcare omnibus bill.

Senator Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) was the only member of the committee to speak in opposition to the provision, which would have legalized a smokeless form of cannabis for people with terminal illnesses.

“This has not been vetted at all on the Senate side,” said Holsman on Wednesday morning during a conference committee hearing on SB 718.

Since 2014, Holsman has financially backed a far-left group which has spent millions of dollars to add an expansive marijuana amendment to the Missouri constitution. Though the Senator has introduced his own marijuana legislation for years, his bills have never received wide support from his colleagues.

“It’s always disappointing when good legislation doesn’t cross the finish line, but I believe the legislature will deal with this issue next year,” said Rep. Jim Neely (R-Cameron), whose medical marijuana bill was approved by a veto-proof majority in the Missouri House of Representatives last month. “Missourians fighting for their lives don’t have time to wait for the FDA to approve medical cannabis.”

Voters may get the chance to weigh in on marijuana in the November election. Signatures for three separate marijuana petitions were filed with the Missouri Secretary of State last week.

SOURCE: https://www.cannabis.gripe/2018/05/MO-Democrat-Kills-Medical-Marijuana.html?m=1

AP: Minimum wage, medical pot among Missouri ballot proposals

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Several groups have submitted signatures for proposed ballot measures on a minimum wage hike, limits on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and medical marijuana in time for the Sunday deadline to get initiative petitions on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Missouri Secretary of State’s Office still needs to check the number of signatures for each proposal, and then local election authorities must verify signatures. The process takes weeks to determine whether measures received enough voter signatures to get on the ballot.

Here’s a round-up of the proposed ballot measures:

Minimum wage

One proposal would ask voters to increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.85 an hour to $8.60 an hour in 2019, then gradually increase it to $12 an hour by 2023. The petition is backed by the organization Raise Up Missouri, which has said it turned in more than 120,000 signatures.

Proposed changes to state law require 5 percent of legal voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts to sign petitions to get the issue on the ballot. According to the secretary of state’s office, that means a minimum of about 100,000 signatures.

Ethics

A proposed constitutional amendment pushed by the group Clean Missouri would limit lobbyist gifts to lawmakers to at most $5 and require legislators to wait at least two years before becoming lobbyists. Currently, there are no limits to lobbyist gifts, although they must be reported. Lawmakers now must wait six months from the end of their term before lobbying.

Clean Missouri’s campaign director, Sean Nicholson, said the group had collected almost 347,000 signatures, more than twice the minimum amount needed to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

The measure faces pushback from some Republicans over a proposed change in redistricting.

Legislative districts are set to be redrawn after the 2020 census, and currently are created by two governor-appointed, bipartisan commissions. Those commissions would still exist under the ballot proposal, but they would instead be tasked with reviewing a map drawn by a “non-partisan state demographer,” with the aim of making future elections more competitive.

That demographer would be chosen by the state auditor, although Senate majority and minority leaders would be able to veto some candidates.

Current Auditor Nicole Galloway is a Democrat. She’s up for re-election in November.

Medical marijuana

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri have turned in signatures for three ballot initiatives that would let voters weigh in on the issue.

Three organizations — New Approach Missouri, Missourians for Patient Care and Find the Cure — submitted signatures for petitions to support allowing some patients access to medical marijuana.

Each initiative would allow patients with cancer, HIV, epilepsy and a variety of other conditions access to medical marijuana. The differences among the proposals largely stem from how marijuana would be regulated and taxed, and where those new tax dollars would go.

According to the secretary of state’s office, if all three measures made it to the ballot and were approved by voters, the differences between them would be resolved by the following formula: Constitutional amendments would trump state law, and whichever amendment received the most votes would overrule the other.

SOURCE: SE Missourian

Cannabis-based Drug Stops Seizures in 5% of Children. Will the FDA Approve It?

The Federal Drug Administration is poised to make history should it approve a new drug for treating epilepsy called Epidiolex. What makes this oral solution unique is its active ingredient – cannabis. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Missouri residents as the state has already recognized the value of medical marijuana in helping patients with intractable epilepsy. But that’s currently the only condition for which the state allows medicinal cannabis treatments.

The Missouri Patient Care Act seeks to bring a reasonable, regulated medical cannabis industry to the voters on the 2018 ballot. This petition requires certification from a licensed physician prior to receiving treatment but goes beyond epilepsy to include any other qualifying conditions. Today, physicians are willing to recommend brain surgeries to their epileptic patients even though success ranges from 20% to 90%, but for those with intractable epilepsy, surgery is not effective.

Now, a FDA-approved panel of 13 experts has unanimously agreed that Epidiolex is both safe and effective. The main ingredient, cannabidiol (CBD), does not contain THC, known to provide the “high” associated with smoking marijuana. In two large clinical trials, the new drug improved conditions significantly. The first study of 225 patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome saw a 42% reduction in seizure occurrence. The second trial was comprised of 120 children with Dravet syndrome. Convulsive seizures were cut in half among 43% of those taking the drug with 5% achieving complete freedom from seizures.

To date, no antiepileptic drug has been approved in the United States for patients with Dravet syndrome. As exciting as this news is to parents, patients and physicians, this preliminary approval by the expert panel does not guarantee that the FDA will officially approve the drug when they convene on June 27. To do so would require the Drug Enforcement Administration to remove cannabis from their list of Schedule 1 drugs. To date, the DEA holds fast to their belief that marijuana (cannabis) has no currently accepted medical use.

Medical Cannabis Bill Brings Hope to VA Patients

In a 2017 American Legion poll of veteran households,  92 percent of respondents supported medical marijuana research, 82 percent would like medical cannabis to be legalized and 1 in 5 veterans currently use it to treat a medical or physical condition. But even today, most VA patients are worried they could lose their benefits if they discuss medical marijuana use with their doctors as the VA cites federal law (DEA) which defines cannabis as a Schedule I drug. For years, VA physicians have refused to discuss cannabis benefits with their patients.

That silence could be forcibly broken with legislation introduced in the House of Representatives called the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018. An article in Task & Purpose explains why this would be a game changer for servicemen and women. If passed, this legislation would allow the VA’s existing Office of Research and Development to conduct research on the benefits of medical marijuana in treating veterans. It would also give VA patients and physicians freedom to discuss medical cannabis.

Bill HR5520 has the support of both the Republican and Democrat leaders on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. It includes language that demands reports from the VA on an annual basis to show the group’s progress in conducting clinical research. The potential positives for vets using cannabinoids are making headlines for good reason.

The number of vets suffering from chronic pain and PTSD exceeds the national civilian average as does the suicide rate for those addicted to opioids. In 2016, drug overdose death rates increased by 21.5-percent and 66-percent of those deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid. And when it comes to truly dangerous Schedule I drugs it’s important to note that four out of five new heroin users first started by purposely misusing prescription painkillers.

The Missouri Patient Care Act allows patients to discuss medical cannabis with their physician and provides safe access through a well regulated industry, encouraging research. In Pennsylvania, a significant research study has been announced with a goal of detailing the benefits of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain management. Should medical cannabis prove to be a useful coping mechanism, American vets and civilians alike could transition away from highly-addictive opioids which could significantly reduce overdose death rates.

Cultivation Is Proving Its Value As An Economic Solution

When the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announced their top choices for cultivation applicants in February 2018, there was cause to celebrate in the tiny town of Cotton Plant, Arkansas, where a growing operation would be based. The New York Times highlighted this event in an article on the economic opportunities that can come with medical marijuana.

For the mayor of Cotton Plant in Woodruff County, new business is a rarity and his attempts to lure companies and franchises to the rural location have been futile. The population has steadily declined to a number now below 600. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission ranked Woodruff County in the Tier 4 division which makes it one of the least prosperous counties in the state. Applicants willing to build facilities in a Tier 4 county were given priority over others.

Elsewhere, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, with a population of 20,000, the opportunity for a small company to utilize large, empty warehouses for growing cannabis could create an estimated 100 to 150 jobs. And in Pueblo County, Colorado, long known for its poverty, unemployment and low education, unemployment dropped from 12.9 percent to 3.2 percent with the introduction of cannabis processing labs.

On a national level, the industry is set to explode as the number of jobs in the U.S. is predicted to reach 1.1 million by 2025. Revenues from legal cannabis sales in North America are expected to rise from $9.2 billion in 2017 to $47.3 billion by 2027.

Missouri is poised to share in economic benefits like these if medical marijuana passes in November. The Missourians for Patient Care Act is a statutory ballot initiative that gives patients the access they need while giving local government control in establishing local licensing authorities.

SOURCE: NY Times

Medical Marijuana Protection for Missouri in Federal Spending Bill

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice updated their federal marijuana enforcement policy to announce that they would leave states to address their own marijuana activity. In 2014, the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment prevented the U.S. Department of Justice from using their funds to undermine state medical marijuana laws (but this expired on September 30, 2017). Missouri laws shifted in 2014 with changes to sentencing for first-time marijuana possession and granting patients with intractable epilepsy the right to obtain and possess cannabis. Since 2015, twelve additional states have either legalized or decriminalized marijuana, cannabis or its oil.

In 2017, the Senate passed a rider that reinstated the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, disallowing the Department of Justice from working against 46 states, District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico as it relates to medical marijuana. Missouri made the list. While the language didn’t pass last year, it did make its way into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, that was signed by President Trump.

This solidifies states’ rights regarding medical marijuana and cannabis and alleviates concerns over both the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice and comments made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

While the Missourians for Patient Care Act seeks to provide Missouri patients with safe access to a regulated medical cannabis industry for medical benefit, there are other uses for hemp that could be explored. As Forbes.com reports, state industrial hemp research programs are also protected in the omnibus spending bill. This helps pave the way for the United States to make its own advances in the use and potential of hemp – an industry Popular Mechanics magazine predicted to be immensely valuable to the United States before it was made illegal through The Marihuana Tax Act in 1937.

SOURCE: Forbes

New Medical Marijuana Documentary Premieres at SXSW

A new documentary, Weed the People, premiered at SXSW 2018 Film Festival, putting the subject of medical cannabis back in the spotlight. The film, directed by Abby Epstein and executive produced by Ricki Lake, follows five families who stop at nothing to get access to medical cannabis for their children who are fighting cancer.

In the trailer, Donald Abrams, MD. points out that cannabis has been considered a medicine for 3,000 years except in the United States where it was deemed to not have medicinal value more than 80 years ago. This has been a source of frustration for many who are finding value in different forms of cannabis extracts, including extracts that contain no more than 0.03% THC which provides the “high” associated with recreational marijuana.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency places marijuana in the same Schedule I drug category as LSD and heroin all of which are labeled as having “no currently accepted medical use.” But in 2001, U.S. Health and Human Services filed for patent 6630507 to use cannabinoids for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV dementia.

Today, The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients. And the National Cancer Institute agrees that cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects. But it’s in other countries where cannabis research is proving medical value including Israel, where studies of cannabinoids are already in motion.

The Missourians for Patient Care Act seeks to provide Missouri patients with safe access to a regulated medical cannabis industry for medical benefit. It’s also the only initiative that supports all drug treatment facilities dealing with other drug abuses.

For more information on the documentary visit www.weedthepeoplemovie.com.

CBD Shop Opens in Springfield, Missouri

Determining whether or not CBD oil is legal in Missouri or beneficial to patients depends on who you ask. These questions are being asked more often as CBD oil grows in popularity and becomes more available through retail locations around the state.

In 2017, a new hemp oil store opened in Springfield, Missouri, and the owners are confident in the healing value of CBD (Cannabidiol) which is derived from the hemp plant. One of the owners, Emily Christianson, pointed out to the Springfield News-Leader that hemp and marijuana are not the same and that the oil sold in their location contains less than 0.03 percent THC. Those three letters are short for Tetrahydrocannabinol which is the ingredient that produces the euphoric “high” associated with recreational marijuana.

While there are doctors who remain skeptical, the number of patients who are finding a benefit is growing. The hemp oil is approved for a wide range of conditions in other states but in Missouri the only patients allowed to possess higher concentrations of CBD oil are those with intractable epilepsy who meet state requirements. Out of 6.1 million residents, only 135 patients are actively using the benefits of an official Missouri Hemp Extract Registration Card as recorded through the end of 2017.

The legality of selling CBD products seems to also depend on who you ask. As the article points out, the new CBD of Springfield shop obtained business licenses from both the city and the state and other similar shops are already doing business in Columbia, Joplin, St. Louis and Kansas City.

With the passage of the Missourians for Patient Care Act, state legality would no longer remain a question. It’s the only petition that’s ready to regulate and enforce safe, local zoning use from day one, giving more patients faster access to the help they need.

SOURCE: Springfield News-Leader

RFT: Rex Sinquefield’s Lobbyists Want to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Missouri

The lobbying firm best-known for its work on behalf of St. Louis mega-donor Rex Sinquefield is putting its formidable weight behind a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri. Its efforts join an increasingly well-funded crowd of ballot measures trying to accomplish the same thing.

Known as the Missouri Patient Care Act, the ballot initiative pushed by Pelopidas LLC will ask voters to create new state law to license and regulate medical marijuana through the state’s division of liquor and alcohol control.

The proposal has key differences with other efforts to legalize medical pot, notes Travis Brown, a lobbyist with the firm.

Read the full article at The Riverfront Times.

The Missouri Times: Emerging cannabis industry could be good for commercial Saint Louis real estate

Patient advocates with high demand and low supply are not the only likely benefactors to passing the Missouri Patient Care Act into law this November.  One thing that could rise almost as fast as donations to the Missourians for Patient Care ballot effort is warehouse property value for facilities suitable to grow medical cannabis.

In other cities like Denver, commercial real estate brokers have seen rent rates escalate up to four times what they were before legalized marijuana.  According to a recent New York Times article entitled “A Real Estate Boom, Powered by Pot,” nearly four million square feet of industrial space was being used for cultivation in 2015.

Read full article at The Missouri Times