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Compassionate Care Act fails, future of medical marijuana in Missouri uncertain

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A measure that would legalize medical marijuana in the state of Missouri failed to pass on the House floor just before noon Thursday.

Although HB 2213, also known as the Missouri Compassionate Medical Care Act, was perfected by a vote of 91-59 Tuesday, 26 legislators on both sides of the aisle flipped their green perfection votes red when it came to vote on passage.

Rep. Dave Hinson
Rep. Dave Hinson

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, was surprised by the margin by which the bill failed. Some sources noted that opposition to the amendment snowballed since perfection after lobbying efforts from the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and a general sense to jump off the sinking ship. Hinson did not begrudge members for that decision.

“I’ve done that before too whenever I see a vote go on the way down, and switch mine to ‘no’ also,” he said.

Eapen Thampy with Heartland Priorities has advocated for marijuana reform, but he opposed the Compassionate Care Act for being too restrictive and creating unnecessary barriers to entry into the industry that he believes could stifle free market principles.

Now, however, he believes that an initiative petition from New Approach Missouri, which has fewer restrictions and is much more progressive in language than the Compassionate Care Act will likely become the law of the land.

“In my mind, it’s a done deal that they’re going to get their signatures and… they’ll be successful at the ballot box,” he said. “Any smart politician or any smart legislator that was trying to grapple with this issue should be now thinking how they can legislate under the constitutional framework that New Approach is going to put up.”

Rep. Kevin Engler
Rep. Kevin Engler

Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, was one of the representatives who warned against that prospect. He was more worried about a competing initiative petition from Show Me Cannabis that would end the prohibition on all uses of marijuana, even recreational as in states like Colorado and Washington.

“The reason I think it’s important we do it now, is because we have an IP… and it’s almost identical to Colorado,” he said. “Let’s vote no and that way in November, we’ll have nothing to tell our citizens about how we did it in a responsible manner.”

Engler also believed that opponents to the measure who added amendments that would limit the use to those in hospice care were efforts to weaken the bill, rather than truly perfect it to support it.

One of the representatives who offered an amendment was Rep. Tila Hubrecht, R-Dexter. She cited statistics that showed states with more libertarian approaches to marijuana had more teenagers using the drug illegally than those that did not.

“Compassion is not letting another addictive industry gain a foothold in our state,” she said. “Compassion is protecting the children of our state.”

Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, one of the supporters of the legislation, instead argued that it was compassionate to allow people to treat themselves in ways that worked best for them and that the government should not interfere in that regard.

“People can make choices better for themselves than we can,” he said.

While the House does have other measures that would legalize medical or recreational marijuana, none have even been referred to committee.

It is unlikely the House will hear another measure dealing with cannabis this year with only three weeks left in the session. It is also unlikely that a motion to reconsider the bill will be filed since the bill failed by as many votes as it did.