Medical Marijuana dispensaries are open in Missouri

Article XIV (14) of the Missouri Constitution now allows physicians to prescribe cannabis (medical marijuana) to patients in the Show-Me State. This week (October 19th) medical marijuana dispensaries across the state opened to serve patients.

Missouri requires patients to obtain a prescription card from the state Department of Health and Senior Services for $25. Most cannabis dispensaries will assist patients in the application process for a fee of $75 to $150. Missouri also restricts anyone under the age of 21 from obtaining medical cannabis without their parents’ permission. Missouri also taxes cannabis sales at a 4% rate with the money going to the Missouri Veterans’ Fund.

The state constitution outlines several qualifying conditions for which physicians may prescribe cannabis. They include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, and migraine headaches. “One of the biggest benefits is that the conditions that are listed are very clear. So it’s clear for physicians to see if their patients fall into a qualifying condition. Any qualifying condition from the perspective of a physician is also permissible,” says Benton Berigan

Berigan is a cannabis and biology researcher teaching at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He is also a Ph.D. candidate. Berigan has been studying marijuana policy and science since 2012. “I had the opportunity to lead a cannabis testing lab in Hawaii last year. I was there 6 months to develop methods and get the lab started. We worked with the state to get everything up and running,” Berigan explained.

The researcher says Missouri also gives physicians latitude to make the best decisions for their patients. “The government is not in the physician-patient relationship. If a doctor determines that a patient may have a benefit from being a medical cannabis patient, then they have the right to do that.”

Some research finds a light correlation between cannabis use, severe mental illness, and violence. Other research links cannabis use to violence in patients with severe mental illness but failed to conclude that violence alone was associated with cannabis use. Research also indicates that any correlation between cannabis and violence is similar to the correlation between alcohol and violence.

There also may not be evidence to suggest incidence rates of schizophrenia are affected by marijuana. “If you look at incidence rates of schizophrenia across time and legalization there is no correlation,” Berigan says.

It may be too early to know the full extent of benefits or drawbacks of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes in Missouri. Longitudinal research is required to determine whether children are at greater risk of illegal marijuana use due to Article XIV. Berigan points out, “drug dealers don’t ask for IDs. So not only are we getting access for patients, but we are getting control and regulation. Not everyone can get it. Kids specifically are not going to have access to (medical cannabis).”

Originally published at https://mostpolicyinitiative.org on October 21, 2020.

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MOST Policy Initiative, Inc. is a nonprofit organization aimed to improve the health, sustainability, and economic growth of people and places in the Midwest by providing objective, non-partisan information to decision-makers.

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Dan English

Dan English

Program Coordinator for MOST Policy Initiative and Missouri Local Science Engagement Network. Master of Science in Global Health. #SciComm #SciPol #Hoosier

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