Sarah Climaco

Lawmakers in Missouri debated a medical cannabis bill last week which would establish a program allowing patients with painful, incurable medical conditions to use cannabis to treat pain, according to a Missourinet report. Currently, the state only allows for the medical use of CBD.

Republican state Rep. Jim Neely, the bill’s sponsor and a physician, testified – along with healthcare professionals and patients – to cannabis’ relative safety.

“I have probably over 20,000 hours working in the emergency room,” he said during his remarks to the House Health and Mental Policy Committee. “I have never had a marijuana overdose.”

His comments were buoyed by Dr. Adrianne Poe, a neuroscientist at Washington University’s medical school pain center, who pointed to a January report by the National Academy of Sciences which found cannabis to be a safe and effective pain management tool after researching more than 10,000 human patient studies.

“The very first thing that physicians need to do is find an alternative therapy to opioids as treatment for chronic pain,” she testified, outlining Center for Disease Control guidelines on pain management. “The national academies has given us an answer on that, and the answer is cannabis.”

Opponents of the measure argued that legalizing medical cannabis would put the state at odds with federal law, and Jason Grellner, head of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association, raised concerns about the lack of dose standardization related to medical cannabis products.

“There really is no assurance in any state that has medical marijuana, that if I go back on another day or in another medical marijuana shop, that I am getting the same drug,” he said.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said the legalizing medical cannabis would cause an “intractable dilemma” for law enforcement officers in the state because “decriminalizing marijuana would have no impact on the fact that it would remain a federal crime.”

The Legislative Research Committee estimates that the program would cost about $1 million to establish and that in the following years it would bring in a similar amount annually in tax revenues.

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf, but it hasn’t seen any action in nearly two months.

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