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Medical marijuana poised for House debate


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Over the course of several hours, two public hearings and two different committee votes, a bill legalizing and regulating marijuana for medical purposes in the state has only seen one vote cast against it in the Republican-controlled legislature.

The House Select Committee on General Laws approved HB800 by an 8-0 vote today, marking the second committee to overwhelmingly approve a bill that proponents say is the most restrictive medical marijuana bill in the country.

“This issue is important enough to warrant a discussion on the House floor,” Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California, said. “This issue is important not just for Missouri but for the entire country where people aren’t able to get the treatment they need and deserve. This could provide a viable opportunity to provide treatments that currently aren’t out there.”

Jones, who is Chairman of the Rules committee, supported last year’s bill to permit children with certain types of epilepsy to have access to CBD oil, a product derived from marijuana. Jones said the bill is one of the most restrictive in the country.

“Over half the states currently have some form of law in place,” Jones said. “This is in my opinion one of the most restrictive bill out there dealing with this.”

One House committee on “Emerging Issues” already approved the bill earlier this month prior to the legislative spring break following a lengthy hearing with only a single witness testifying against the bill, which would permit patients with certain medical conditions to receive a prescription for various medicinal marijuana products. The state will be charged with overseeing the production and distribution of marijuana through no more than 30 licensed dispensaries.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, is the first Republican to offer such a bill in the state, and proponents of looser marijuana laws see a potential House floor vote on the bill as a major step forward for their issue.

Supporters of the bill are now quietly lobbying the senate, hoping to find the friendliest committee for the issue. If the bill makes it out of the House, the Senate will be the primary challenge for supporters, where leadership has shown little interest in the issue.