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Missouri May Allow Terminal Patients Access to Non-Smokable THC.

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By Jimi Devine

The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would expand the state’s current CBD-for-epilepsy-only law to allow the terminally ill to access full spectrum medical cannabis.

While the new law, HB 1554, still falls among the strictest in the nation, it would expand access in Missouri. Patients suffering from a list of terminal conditions yet to be named will be able to have access to medical marijuana in a smokeless form. Patients with other non-life-threatening diseases would have access to a hemp extract that’s at least five percent CBD, with no more than 0.3 percent THC.

The bill’s system for differentiating between the two groups of people — those with terminal illnesses and those with epilepsy — gets a bit confusing. The bill’s summary notes, “A medical cannabis registration card may only be issued for terminal illnesses and a hemp extract registration card may only be issued for intractable epilepsy.”

The full list of what’s currently being recognized as a “debilitating condition” is cancer, glaucoma, HIV, ALS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Alzheimer’s, MS, PTSD and epilepsy.

But if people with epilepsy and other serious conditions would be allowed access to medical marijuana, why is Missouri creating all this separate CBD-only infrastructure? The bill creates various matching permits for both cannabis and CBD producers. CBD-only dispensaries would be called “cannabidiol oil care centers,” and full spectrum marijuana retailers would be called “cannabis care centers.” The bill also puts forth a system with matching cultivation and processing licenses. Since the bill does not legalize cannabis smoking, both hemp and marijuana growers will have to turn their harvests into oil.

Despite the confusion on details, it has been clear for a while that the intent of this bill was to help people in hospice care and end-of-life situations. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Neely, told a crowd last month: “There’s a lot of people in my world, from the hospice and the long-term care world, that feel that this would be appropriate for people to ease the pain, suffering and the side-effects of the opioids and this might be the best way to go.”

Neely also cited President Donald Trump’s “leadership” on the marijuana legalization issue as the House debate closed, according to a tweet from Eapen Thampy, a lobbyist working for medical cannabis legalization in Missouri.

Original publication in CannabisNow.