Missouri adopts the latest medical marijuana law...sort of

Governor Jay Nixon signed a medical cannabis (marijuana) law yesterday, making Missouri the latest state to adopt such a law. Unfortunately, Missouri, like 10 other states over the past few months, has passed a law that benefits a narrow segment of patients and failed to establish a safe and legal means by which they can obtain their medicine.

In an effort to evaluate the vastly different medical marijuana laws across the country, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) just issued "Medical Marijuana Access in the U.S.," a report that evaluates the array of existing laws. Missouri, along with Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin, received F-grades for failing to meet the needs of patients.

Significant evidence indicates that cannabis strains rich in Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the primary compounds in the plant, are helpful for patients with intractable epilepsy and other seizure disorders. CBD also has less psychoatoive properties and, therefore, has less of a euphoric effect on its users. This combination is ideal for treating children with seizure disorders, but for patients with other debilitating health conditions CBD by itself may not be as effective.

The other significant problem with states that have adopted CBD-only laws is they are not supported by a system that regulates the production, manufacture, or distribution of medical cannabis. The country's CBD-only laws, with the exception of Florida's, merely protect the possession and use of specific oil extracted from the plant, but unfortunately they still criminalize those who cultivate, extract or sell cannabis.

Missouri and the other states like it have taken the first step toward meeting the needs of their patients, however they have a long way to go to establish an effective public health policy for medical cannabis.

Rather than boast that their state's medical cannabis law is the most restrictive in the country, policymakers should be adopting laws that aim to help patients the most. To help with this effort, the recent ASA report underscores how policymakers can better help the patients they're trying to support and pass more effective medical cannabis laws.