Medical marijuana bill passes house committee

Lee's Summit JournalApril 16, 2014 

A proposal to legalize cannabis extracts for medical purposes was passed April 8 with a unanimous vote by Missouri House General Laws Committee. Under the proposed law, House Bill 2238, the State Department of Agriculture would be authorized to produce, manufacture and distribute cannabis extract that is low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and high in CBD (cannabidiol). Those who receive a recommendation from a neurologist would be able to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis extract.

I have compassion for individuals who are suffering from a chronic illness who cannot be helped through FDA approved medication. But on the other side of this issue, I am against legalizing medicinal marijuana that is sold locally, in individually owned dispensaries, with no doctor’s order or pharmacy recommendations.

I am glad that Missouri is considering legislation that will not open the flood gates to anyone who pretends to be ill just to get a joint. The Patient Bill would permit use of hemp extract. Before a patient could be prescribed the extract they would have to have epilepsy that a neurologist has determined is not responding to at least three treatment options.

As residents of Missouri, there are many questions we need answered about the product House Bill 2238 is selling.

We need to know how they will go about creating a hemp product that contains less than .3 percent of THC, let alone synthesize the CBDs for consumption by children? If it is intended that other entities will produce the CBD product, how will the Department of Agriculture ensure that it is accomplished in accordance with the legislation?

This bill is asking the Agricultural Department to make the rules and regulations for something they know nothing about. How will they be funded and who will enforce the rules? If medical harm results from the use of this drug, will the state of Missouri be legally responsible for damages caused? How will doctors be protected from malpractice claims when recommending a drug not approved by the FDA and is illegal on the federal level? How will doctors be trained to administer this drug?

Were any existing laws used as a model for this bill? Or is it a new idea? Where did the language come from and what case law supports the implementation of the law? Given the fact that CBD based products are already going through the approval process by the FDA, they may already be available to Missouri residents through the Orphan Drug program.

Currently the state of Georgia has a CBD-only bill that has the potential to alleviate most of the problems associated with bills around the country. The governor of Georgia has outlined plans for clinical trials at Georgia Regents University for children with epileptic disorders.

"As the state’s academic health center encompassing a 154-bed children’s hospital, we have a responsibility to address the needs of families whose children are suffering," said Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz. The Georgia plan is based upon scientific research and the use of the pure form of CBD that is going through the proper FDA process. This is the kind of intelligent response we need on this issue.

Doesn’t it make more sense to work with university hospitals rather than the State Department of Agriculture? The marijuana issue is not as simple as pro-marijuana groups would have you believe. Their message is "legalize it and our entire drug problem would disappear." Don’t be naive and don’t take it for granted that the House Committee knows what will work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! This is your state, your community and your home. Stay informed.

 

Roby Little is the director of Lee’s Summit CARES and a Lee’s Summit resident.

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