Missouri has voted to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use. But what does that mean? Is it time to light up in the Show-Me State?
Marijuana is one of those drugs that’s been around forever but still hasn’t settled into any definitive role or status within society. Indigenous peoples in Central America first cultivated it thousands of years ago. Then came Spanish explorers who brought seeds to Mexico, where they were used to grow crops [sources: Light].
When American colonists arrived, they planted them along their east coast. Over half a century after its initial introduction, weed remains an illegal drug on the federal level, despite being widely accepted as medicine among some Americans.
Even states with legalized medicinal uses have not always embraced the plant wholeheartedly — until recently, only eight other states plus Washington D.C. had passed legislation legalizing cannabis for medical purposes.
In 2011, voters in Colorado approved Amendment 20, making the Centennial State the first in the nation to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use completely. The following year, California became the second state to do so when Proposition 19 went down in flames at the polls.
Since then, several additional states, including Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada, have also moved toward legalization through ballot initiatives (amended state constitutions) rather than legislative action. Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to try and compromise with proponents of legal regulation while law enforcement agencies struggle to keep pace with ever-changing laws.
But if you’re looking for something more permanent, there are ways to obtain marijuana without breaking the rules legally. One of these options involves joining the ranks of medical marijuana users, which means consuming the herb under strict guidelines set forth by your doctor. Another option comes courtesy of Missouri residents themselves.
Marijuana is legal for medical use in Missouri, but it is not legal for recreational use. In 2018, Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana for patients with qualifying medical conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Under the law, patients can obtain medical marijuana with a recommendation from a qualified physician and a state-issued medical marijuana card. However, possession of marijuana for recreational use remains illegal in Missouri, and those found in violation of the law can face criminal charges and penalties.
Keep reading for details about how this could affect your life.
Since laws keep changing rapidly, making things a bit confusing sometimes, check out our friends at DISA to see a complete map of every state. They have information on what is legal, medical use, recreational use, and everything else.
So what exactly qualifies someone for medical marijuana treatment? According to the National Organization of Medical Cannabis Users, patients must meet three criteria :
First, they suffer chronic pain severe enough to interfere with daily activities.
Their disease symptoms cause “considerable distress” or “seriously disrupt lifestyle.”
Third, it would benefit their health significantly to take advantage of medical marijuana.
According to NORML, the group responsible for getting marijuana decriminalized nationwide, most qualifying ailments fall into two categories: illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma, and painful injuries such as spinal cord compression, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
There may also be other factors specific to individual cases. For example, individuals over age 65 might qualify due to muscle spasms caused by Alzheimer’s disease or chemotherapy treatments. However, this list isn’t exhaustive since each patient should consult their physician regarding eligibility.
Once diagnosed, doctors can recommend medical marijuana to treat various conditions, many of which include: appetite loss associated with AIDS, nausea, and vomiting linked to chemotherapy, seizures related to epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, arthritis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease, Chron’s Disease, migraines, and neuropathies.
Some physicians may prescribe more substantial THC forms instead of less potent alternatives, depending upon the severity of the condition. In addition, patients seeking relief using medical marijuana aren’t required to smoke the stuff. Instead, they can ingest it via edibles or tinctures. And unlike alcohol or tobacco products, marijuana doesn’t produce hangovers.
Finally, because marijuana contains psychoactive compounds called cannabinoids, it interacts with our bodies endocannabinoid system, signaling parts of our nervous system that regulate sleep patterns, immune function, memory formation, and bone growth like natural opiates found in opium plants. These properties make marijuana uniquely effective against depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Next, We’ll Look At How This New Law Affects Those Already Smoking The Reefer.
Cities can change their stance on marijuana quickly, especially considering that more cities are moving towards legalization. So if you live in a town governed by municipal ordinances, check whether weed possession and sales are allowed before heading out for an excellent high.
Many municipalities outlaw the cultivation and distribution of marijuana entirely, though some allow limited home grows and retail sales of low-THC strains. Check here for current regulations in your area.
With Measure 3, Missouri residents now have the right to buy up to 28 grams of dried plant per month and consume that amount outside private residences. In addition, adults caught possessing more than 12 ounces of bud face penalties ranging from misdemeanor charges to felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and $1,000 fines.
Other areas tolerate marijuana dispensaries and delivery services operating illegally. As of November 2013, only 17 percent of U.S. states permit nonprescription access to marijuana. Only six states expressly authorize medical marijuana.
Missouri joins Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Montana, Oregon, Washington state, and the District of Columbia to allow full recreational marijuana purchases. However, only Wyoming permits unlimited possession of cannabis for all adults.
Of the remaining 48 states, 29 don’t recognize medical marijuana nor permit its use anywhere except for Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
While the legality of medical marijuana varies from state to state, there’s no question that it’s becoming increasingly popular. A 2010 Gallup Poll revealed that 42 percent of adult Americans supported the outright legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
Even President Barack Obama thinks it shouldn’t remain outlawed. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One in September 2014, he remarked, “I think the sense of Congress, generally speaking, is that there ought to be greater scrutiny given to putting in place the kinds of controls and monitoring systems that have historically made illicit drugs less accessible.”
He added, “it makes common sense to me that public opinion is going to shift dramatically as more young people start engaging in behavior that maybe 16 years ago seemed taboo.”