Last Update: September 23, 2014
High-CBD marijuana extract bill becomes law
Gov. Jay Nixon signed HB 2238 into law, which authorizes the use of “hemp extract” for some qualifying patients. Hemp extract is a cannabis oil primarily containing one of the active ingredients in medical marijuana, cannabidiol (also referred to as CBD). Only those diagnosed with epilepsy who cannot be treated with at least three other treatment options will qualify, and the vast majority of seriously ill patients who would normally benefit from a medical marijuana program will be excluded. For a detailed look at the law, click here. For an analysis on how limited this type of approach is, see our summary.
This action follows the governor’s recent decision to allow SB 491 to become law. Once enacted, SB 491 will make many significant changes to state criminal laws, including the establishment of a new category of misdemeanor — Class D. People charged with marijuana possession of less than 10 grams would not face jail time under this law’s provisions. Unfortunately, it will not take effect until January 1, 2017.
Other positive bills were not as successful. HB 1325, sponsored by Rep. Rory Ellinger, would have lowered the criminal penalty for possession of less than 35 grams of cannabis to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine only. The bill did not receive a hearing before the legislature adjourned. Similarly, Rep. Chris Kelly's HB 1659, which would have legalized marijuana and taxed and regulated it similarly to alcohol, did not advance during the session. With regards to a workable medical marijuana program that would help a broad range of seriously ill patients, SB 951, sponsored by Sen. Jason Holsman, would have created a program similar to those currently in 23 other states and the District of Columbia. A similar bill, HB 1324, sponsored by Rep. Rory Ellinger, would also have protected patients with a wider range of conditions. Neither medical marijuana bill advanced.
Missouri has vast room for improvement. Please ask your legislators to support taking marijuana off the criminal market and regulating it similarly to alcohol.
Marijuana laws in Missouri
Even with the recent enactment of SB 491, which will lessen penalties for those caught with up to 10 grams of marijuana beginning in 2017, Missouri still has a long way to go to protect its adult residents who choose to possess or use a substance that has been shown to be objectively safer than alcohol.
Possession of over 35 grams — about 1.25 ounces — is a felony subject to a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $5,000 fine.
In 2012, Missouri arrested over 18,800 individuals for marijuana-related offenses, 92% of which were for possession. During the same year, 87% of reported burglaries — including home invasions — and 88% of motor vehicle thefts went unsolved by law enforcement. In addition to marijuana prohibition diverting police from more serious crime, it’s also been unevenly enforced among races. African Americans are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Missouri, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates. For more information on how the war on marijuana consumers is often waged unequally, check out the ACLU’s recent report.
If you agree Missouri should take marijuana off the criminal market, legalize it for adults 21 and older, and tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol, tell your state representative and senator today!
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana policy reform in Missouri, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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