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.”

Per Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution, a qualifying medical condition is: (click to see)

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 order if diagnosed by a state-licensed psychiatrist

Human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome

A chronic medical condition that is normally treated with prescription medications 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 a terminal illness

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

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).”

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