Missouri Senate Panel Weighs Medical Marijuana
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Heidi Rayl’s 4-year-old son has multiple seizures a day, and Rayl on Tuesday took her fight to state lawmakers in the hope of winning access to a currently banned treatment: medical marijuana.
Rayl drove to the Capitol from her home in Versailles to tell a Missouri Senate panel how legalizing medical marijuana could help treat her son’s seizures, saying other treatment options haven’t worked.
The Senate committee is considering legislation to legalize marijuana use by patients diagnosed by a physician with a debilitating medical condition. Rayl said Zayden, 4, has a condition that causes serve epilepsy and that he frequently stop breathing during seizures.
“I can’t fix his boo-boo, but I will never stop trying,” she said.
Rayl said Zayden’s seizures could be controlled from using oil extracted from marijuana plants, saying it also would be a cheaper treatment than his current medicine. She added that medical marijuana would save Missouri money because Zayden’s costly treatments are paid through the Medicaid program.
The Senate General Laws Committee did not vote on the medical marijuana proposal and offered no timetable for future action. The bill contains a referendum clause that would place the legislation on the November ballot, instead of heading to the governor’s desk.
If approved by voters, the legislation would levy an 8 percent tax on such marijuana’s purchase price.
The bill would also regulate who, where and how medical marijuana could be dispensed and used. Medical marijuana centers would need to be licensed with the Department of Health and Senior Services. Under the bill, the drug could only be transported in the trunk of a car and couldn’t be used near schools or some other public places.
The Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons testified in opposition to the measure, citing concerns that medical marijuana has not gone through enough clinical trials to give physicians guidance on how to properly use it.
Some committee members also raised questions about the effects of secondhand smoke and the potential for abuse. But one of those speaking in support of the legislation said that shouldn’t preclude lawmakers from moving forward.
“You are going to have people imagining back pain to get marijuana,” said Nikki Furrer, whose brother Joey also has frequent seizures. “But my brother shouldn’t pay the price for their misuse.”
With less than seven weeks to go in the annual legislative session it is unlikely the bill could pass through both chambers in time for Missouri to join 20 other states in allowing medical marijuana.
But the bill’s sponsor said Missouri should learn from the examples of other states to try to remove a stigma surrounding marijuana.
“People are seeing that society hasn’t fallen apart because folks are allowed to use medicine in the privacy of their home,” said Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City.
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