As reported by Dan Viets, House Bill 978 was heard in committee, and would free marijuana prisoner Jeff Mizanskey. On the Senate side, two bills were heard in the Committee on Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources, chaired by Senator Bryan Munzlinger. The first, Senate Bill 386, has been introduced by Senator Joe Keaveny (D – Saint Louis) for the purpose of expanding our current CBD oil law. The second, Senate Bill 255, has been introduced by Senator Rob Schaaf (R – St. Joseph), and would allow for industrial hemp production in Missouri.
Many of you may recall that last year when the CBD oil bill was first introduced, there was a great deal of concern that it was too limiting to be of value to medical marijuana patients. While we are of course hopeful that one of the full medical marijuana bills is passed in Missouri this year, last year’s CBD oil bill has laid the ground work for creating a more robust system. Although this year’s expansion is imperfect for the needs of many patients as it still would not allow for high-THC medicine, this bill would expand the number of operation licenses from two to ten (meaning up to 30 total dispensaries), expand the ability of physicians to recommend medical cannabis options, and greatly expand the number of diseases and ailments for which CBD oil could be recommended.
Perhaps owing to the enormous amount of support last year’s bill received, the Committee seemed quite receptive to working on improving the law they have already passed, and no one spoke in opposition. We did hear from several supporters of the bill, including testimony from Tom Mundell, the illustrious war veteran who spoke at last week’s medical marijuana hearing. Tom again pressed for urgency in allowing medical cannabis options for veterans with PTSD. Advocate Heidi Rayl spoke again about the need of CBD oil for her son Zayden, who suffers from Dravet’s Syndrome, and pressed for the committee to look at the efficacy of other cannabinoids, such as THCa in treating epilepsy as well as other health issues, and how anyone who could benefit from this oil should have access to it. The Missouri Nurses Association, along with a few more advocates, also gave their support. Although they did not testify against the bill — to do so would be an illegal use of public funds — the anti-marijuana group ACT Missouri testified for informational purposes. (The information, however, was simply handed to the committee, so it’s difficult to say how much was factual.) All in all, the feeling in the room was positive, and I am hopeful that Missouri will only continue to progress in this regard.
Although there are currently some differences, we expect agreement between the Senate and House industrial hemp bills in their language as things move forward. The committee was largely curious about the bill and what hemp could mean for Missouri. Again, several people were eager to testify on the need for this legal change. Dan Viets spoke to the history of hemp in Missouri, and I addressed some of the technical questions about the plant and federal laws. The committee heard overwhelming support from businessmen and farmers, including Tom Smith of Flat Branch Brewing Co in Columbia, who will hopefully be making hemp beer for us all in the near future!
Currently, SB 255 would only start the process of growing hemp in Missouri by initiating a pilot research program as was addressed in Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill. While we are hopeful that this can be expanded to allow for commercial production, it seems that all opposition to industrial hemp in Missouri has finally left the building — provided that this simply allows for the pilot research program. In summary, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Missouri Farm Bureau have both expressed direct opposition to any reform of cannabis laws, suggesting that miscreants will be planting secret THC-marijuana plants in the middle of their non-THC hemp plots left and right and all hell will break loose. Of course, we know that no farmer nor seasoned marijuana grower would desire this sort of cross-contamination when looking for the different properties associated with seeds and buds, but that has been the argument in the past. This year, we did not hear from the Highway Patrol. And though the MO Farm Bureau testified in opposition, their representative suggested they may be changing on this issue, and that they would only oppose commercial industrial hemp production, not an industrial hemp pilot research program. That means they don’t even actually oppose the bill they testified in opposition to!
Senator Munzliger, who chaired the Senate Committee hearing both bills, should be commended for the attention he has paid to these bills. Often, Committee Chairs will not take the time to research and learn the topics presented in their hectic schedules. I was extremely pleased to see the attention and sincerity with which he approached cannabis hemp, and am hopeful he will be able to inform others about our potential use for this valuable crop.
Though not perfect, the meetings this week are very encouraging! Bills take many steps to be passed and enacted, but Show-Me Cannabis is off to a good start this legislative session. We will keep at it and keep you informed of our progress. Please help us sustain change, and become a supporter by contributing $10 or $25 today!
Source: Show-Me Cannabis