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Missouri

Cannabis Legalization in Missouri

Bottom Line:

Medical cannabis was legalized in Missouri in 2018, though recreational cannabis remains illegal. However, possession and use of small quantities has been decriminalized for some time.

Missouri recently became one of the newest states in North America to push through new medical cannabis legislation. Cannabis in general has been partly decriminalized in Missouri since 2014, but it wasn’t until 2018 that medical cannabis was finally given the green light. As a result, it is widely expected that official medical cannabis sales in Missouri will not begin until the mid-stages of 2020.

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When Was Cannabis Decriminalised in Missouri?

Lawmakers in Missouri decided the time had come to rethink the state’s archaic and severe cannabis policy. Prior to this, anyone caught carrying less than 10g of cannabis for personal use could face a jail sentence – even as a first offense. The state accepted that too much time, effort and money was being wasted on pointless cannabis convictions, leading to the decriminalization of small amounts. 

However, Missouri’s new cannabis policy only amounted to partial decriminalization, given how possession of small quantities of cannabis is still considered a misdemeanor. Roughly translated, you can still get in plenty of trouble for carrying or consuming cannabis illegally.

When Was Medical Cannabis Legalized in Missouri?

The state took a decisive step towards medical cannabis legalization in 2014 when Governor Jay Nixon brought into effect the new bill that "allows the Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for research purposes and allows the use of hemp extract to treat certain individuals with epilepsy". However, access to CBD oil was restricted exclusively to epilepsy patients, for whom a minimum of three conventional treatment options had proved ineffective. There was no other way to access medical cannabis or cannabis-related products legally in Missouri.

That is, until medical cannabis legislation was officially put to the vote in Missouri in November 2018. At this point, an impressive 66% of voters decided Amendment 2 should be enacted. Along with laying the foundation for the state’s future medical cannabis industry, the new legislation would also permit qualifying patients to cultivate a maximum of six cannabis plants on their property. A flat 4% tax rate on all medical cannabis sales was also confirmed, the proceeds of which are to be used to provide services for military veterans.  An initial list of qualifying conditions was also introduced at the time of the bill, which followed similar standards of those of other medical pot-friendly states in the U.S.

When Will Medical Cannabis Sales Begin in Missouri?

As the medical cannabis vote in Missouri took place in November 2018, it is expected to be sometime before commercial sales begin. Although significant time has passed since medical cannabis was effectively legalized in Missouri, state officials haven’t yet offered any specific dates or estimates for the first legal medical cannabis sales.

It will likely be another year before Missouri patients will be able to step into a dispensary and legally buy marijuana as a doctor-certified treatment, said three private-sector sources tied to Amendment 2's development and other medical marijuana issues stated a few months ago.

"I’d say it’s too soon for us to predict that," commented Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. "We have some of the dates in the constitution we have to get behind. Even the dates that are in these draft rules are merely the draft rules. Until those are finalized, it’s really hard to speculate."

As far as industry watchers are concerned, nowhere near enough progress has been made to suggest medical cannabis sales will begin for at least another year.  During this time, prospective medical cannabis patients across the state will find themselves in a frustrating stalemate position. After this, it is also likely to be some time before a significant network of dispensaries rolls out state-wide – initial availability could be scarce, to say the least.We do know that licenses for cultivation and dispensing have now been issued, as of January 27th, 2020.

Can I Legally Possess Medical Cannabis in Missouri Now?

Medical cannabis may have been given the green light, but there is currently no allowance for possessing or using it as of this time. In order for Amendment 2 to be brought into effect, the state first needs to take a wide variety of additional steps and introduce a variety of measures. As a result, all forms of cannabis remain illegal in Missouri – medical or otherwise.

How Quickly Can I Access Medical Cannabis?

Unless you fulfill the strict requirements to qualify for CBD oil, you are probably going to be in for a long wait.  Not only are medical cannabis sales in Missouri not likely to begin until the middle of next year, there’s also plenty of time for policymakers to further complicate the soon-to-be industry. For example, they may – as has been the case in many other states – make it difficult for would-be dispensaries to obtain the permits and licenses required to do business. It’s also probable that initial dispensary licenses will be made available in very limited numbers.

How Can I Qualify for Medical Cannabis in Missouri?

On the plus side, it is at least possible to begin dealing with the formalities of qualifying for medical cannabis. Medical cannabis may not be available just yet, but you can set yourself up as a medical cannabis patient. The process of doing so looks a little like this:

  1. Organize an appointment with a licensed physician and receive a diagnosis for a qualifying condition.
  2. File an application with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for an official medical cannabis identification card.
  3. If your application is accepted and approved, you will receive your medical cannabis card in the post after a couple of weeks.

It’s worth noting that not all physicians in Missouri are willing to recommend patients for medical cannabis. It’s, therefore, a good idea to research the physician you intend to consult with, before making your appointment.

Where Will I be Able to Purchase Medical Cannabis in Missouri?

This is where things are likely to become complicated, as you will not be able to fill your prescription at a standard pharmacy. It will only be the state’s official medical cannabis dispensaries that are permitted to sell medical cannabis of any kind. Initially, it is likely that no more than a handful of official cannabis dispensaries will be in business by the summer of 2020.

Can I Carry and Consume Medical Cannabis with an Out-Of-State Permit?

Unfortunately, the same rules apply to anyone carrying or using cannabis of any kind. Even if you have a medical cannabis card and are permitted to use it in your home state, all forms of cannabis remain illegal to possess and consume in Missouri. You may, therefore, find yourself liable for prosecution, even if you’re using cannabis exclusively for medical purposes.

What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Cannabis Card?

According to the official pages of Amendment 2, diagnosis of any of the following conditions may result in a physician recommending a patient for medical cannabis:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment
  • A chronic medical condition that causes severe, persistent pain or
    persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with
    multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome
  • Debilitating psychiatric disorders, including, but not limited to,
    post-traumatic stress disorder, if diagnosed by a state-licensed psychiatrist
  • Human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • A chronic medical condition that is normally treated with a
    prescription medication that could lead to physical or psychological
    dependence, when a physician determines that medical use of marijuana could be
    effective in treating that condition and would serve as a safer alternative to
    the prescription medication
  • Any terminal illness; or in the professional judgment of a physician,
    any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition, including, but not
    limited to, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, inflammatory bowel
    disease, Crohn’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism, neuropathies, sickle
    cell anemia, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia and wasting syndrome.

I Have One of these Conditions – Will I Definitely Qualify?

No, as ultimately it’s up to your physician to decide whether or not you should be allowed access to medical cannabis. Though if one doctor refuses to recommend you, there’s nothing to stop you visiting a different doctor.

How About Medical Cannabis Cultivation?

When the changes in state cannabis policy come into effect, medical cannabis patients will be able to grow their own cannabis at home. Subject to their possession of a medical cannabis card and the plants being located somewhere secure and out of sight – no more than six at a time.

Will Recreational Cannabis Be Legalized in Missouri?

Given the fact that medical cannabis is still (technically) illegal for the time being, the likelihood of recreational cannabis being legalized anytime soon is minimal. Even following decriminalization, the state continues to impose heavy penalties for the illegal possession and consumption of cannabis.

There’s also limited evidence to suggest that the people of Missouri would vote in favor of recreational cannabis legislation, even if it was brought to the ballot box.

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