In Missouri, marijuana is strictly legal for medical use, while it remains illegal for recreational purposes. However, there are ongoing efforts to place recreational marijuana on the November 2022 ballot for determination by Indiana voters. The proposed amendment will regulate the use of cannabis for adults and clear the criminal records of persons convicted of nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.
Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution legalized medical cannabis in the state and provided that only state-licensed doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana as a treatment for specific medical conditions. Also, the law established a patient’s right to be treated using medical marijuana as long as they are diagnosed with qualifying medical conditions. Some of the diseases and medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana therapy include:
HIV or AIDS
Certain medical conditions which, in the opinion of the physician, can be best managed by medical marijuana
PTSD diagnosed by a psychiatrist licensed by the state
Qualifying patients and caregivers must obtain medical marijuana cards to buy and possess marijuana in Missouri. The provision of the law extends even to persons with criminal records; it provides that they can obtain marijuana for medical purposes as long as they are certified by licensed physicians. However, in certain situations, a person’s medical marijuana license may be revoked for criminal conduct after the card issuance.
For an applicant to obtain a medical marijuana card in Missouri, they must be resident in the state and must have been certified as being qualified through the endorsed certification form by a registered physician in the state. However, parents or legal guardians of applicants under 18 years would be required to complete Parent/Legal Guardian Consent Forms. Medical marijuana patients and caregivers must present their medical marijuana identification cards when buying medical marijuana products from dispensaries. Patients yet to receive their cards are permitted to present their physician certifications. Per Article XIV, medical marijuana is any variety of cannabis with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of more than 0.3% when measured on a dry weight basis. The administration of cannabis to a patient may be done through different means, including:
Inhalation: this will include smoking and vaping
Oral means: this will consist of edibles, tinctures, capsules, and oils
Sublingual means: this method of administration is applied under the tongue using sprays, lozenges, tinctures, and dissolvable strips
Topical means: this involvesq making use of lotion, salves, bath salt, and oils
Missouri has benefited from legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. The Medical Marijuana Regulatory Program 2021 Annual Report published by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that between December 6th, 2020, and December 6th, 2021, over 5,000 agent cards were issued, which was considered a significant boost for the Missouri workforce, and the projection for the year 2022 is put at an average of 200 agents per facility.
On the financial end, the total recorded retail sales in the state for the period was $190,674,516. Article XIV of the state’s constitution provides that all medical marijuana sold at dispensaries must be taxed and that a significant part of the taxed revenue is earmarked for the use of veterans in the state. The state has been able to transfer the sum of $4,054,490 to the Veterans Health and Care fund as of the end of the Program year 2021, bringing the total sum made available to Missouri veterans to $8,978,820.
According to the FBI crime data explorer, arrests involving marijuana possession declined from 15,462 in 2019 to 10,650 in 2020. In addition, the rate of arrests for the sale of marijuana decreased from 1,186 arrests in 2019 to 936 in 2020. The legalization of medical marijuana in Missouri has positively impacted marijuana-related offenses in the state.
A medical marijuana card is a document that gives a qualifying patient license to purchase, possess, use, and grow marijuana for medical purposes. These cards are issued by states where medical marijuana is legal, and the method of obtaining them varies from state to state.
To obtain a medical marijuana card in Missouri, a patient must first confirm that their condition qualifies them to apply for the card. The confirmation can only be done by a registered physician who is a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy in good standing in the state. After that, the patient may visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website and proceed with their application using the Patient/Caregiver Application Registration tab. Payment for the issuance of the card may be made using an electronic check, MasterCard, Visa card, Discover, American Express, or any gift card issued with any of these credit cards. The license is valid for a period of one year. Patients who wish to cultivate marijuana at home must pay additional fees. However, only the patient or their caregiver and not both of them may be allowed to cultivate marijuana for the patient. Patients are advised to inquire from their licensed physicians the following:
The benefits of using medical marijuana therapy
The risks of using medical marijuana therapy
The use of medical marijuana therapy and its effect on other drugs taken
The expected side effects
The possibility of marijuana being covered by their health insurance
Medical marijuana may be administered to a qualified patient by smoking, inhaling through a vaping cart, eating, or applying it to the skin. Medical marijuana can be used to reduce pain, kill cancer cells, and slow tumor growth.
Missouri does not recognize medical marijuana cards issued from other states. Hence, a patient seeking to possess or use medical marijuana in Missouri must apply using the prescribed process in the state. An applicant is required to provide the following to complete the application process:
Applicant’s proof of residency
A valid government-issued photo identification
Completed certification form, filled by a physician
A clear picture of the patient’s face taken within 3 months before the application
Attestation statement, signature, and date.
The process of medical marijuana legalization in the state of Missouri began in 2008 when in the case of Missouri v Cox, the court refused to accept the defense of medical necessity for the use of marijuana because the legislature had expressed the desire to place marijuana on the list of drugs in Schedule 1 of Missouri Controlled Substances. The court refused the defense even though the statute at that time allowed certain professionals to dispense substances in Schedule 1. This situation continued till 2014 when Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill into law that allowed the use of marijuana CBD oil to treat malignant seizures; the bill was initiated in the state by republican senator Eric Schmitt from St. Louis County. In addition, the bill from the House, HB 1325, sponsored by Rep Rory Ellinger, reduced the penalties associated with possession of marijuana of up to 10 grams. The law provided that a first offense should be classified as a Class D misdemeanor, and the fine attached was between $250 and $1,000. There was no provision for a jail term for a first offender.
In 2015, the first set of medical marijuana business licenses were issued to two non-profit organizations to grow and produce cannabis oil. While in 2017, a new law was enacted in Kansas City, which provided that the possession of marijuana of up to 35 grams by adults aged 21 years and above was no longer a criminal misdemeanor but a civil offense punishable with a fine of $25. Another milestone was realized in 2018 when Missouri residents voted and passed Amendment 2, which legalized marijuana for medical use. Consequently, the issuing of licenses began in the middle of 2019. Despite these giant strides regarding medical marijuana in Missouri, citizens of the state have started a new push for the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, which voters may decide on in the 2022 ballot.