On Election Day this November, voters in Missouri approved Constitutional Amendment 2, which legalizes the manufacture, possession and use of medical marijuana.
For everyday citizens, that could mean a new method of managing painful illnesses. For state regulators, it means writing a whole new book of rules separating legal from illegal when it comes to pot.
The details of how medical marijuana will be regulated are still unwritten. But Amendment 2 contains a rough outline of who has access to it and who will have permission to produce it.
Below are some major provisions of Amendment 2.
1) Nothing changes until next year.
The state’s Department of Health and Senior Services is in charge of writing and enforcing the specific rules surrounding medical marijuana. It has until June 2019 to make applications available for medical marijuana user licenses (more on that below), and months longer before growers and sellers can start applying.
2) All use and production needs a license.
Missouri will require a special license for just about every hand that touches medical cannabis. That includes growers, dispensers, patients and everyone in between. Patients will need a type of prescription from a doctor.
Every commercially produced marijuana plant and product must be logged in a “seed to sale” tracking database that will have to be implemented. The drugs also will have to be tested by an independent laboratory to ensure they meet certain standards (which are to be determined).
Patients or caregivers will be allowed to grow a small number of marijuana plants within their own home, but that requires another special license beyond the one for personal use.
3) Licenses will cost, sometimes a lot.
For personal medical use, patients and their caregivers will pay $25 per year for IDs to possess or use the drug. Patients who wish to grow up to six plants at home for personal use will pay $100 per year.
Larger facilities that grow fields of marijuana plants, or that process or dispense marijuana products, will have to pay tens of thousands of dollars annually in licensing fees.
4) There’s a limit to how much you can possess.
Amendment 2 allows the Department of Health and Senior Services to set limits on how much marijuana licensed patients can have, although there are some minimum limits. People who possess more than the limit can lose their license, be fined or even go to prison.
5) You can’t be high in the car or at work.
Amendment 2 specifically does not allow a person to be under the influence of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. Doing so would subject drivers to the same criminal penalties they face today.
The amendment also doesn’t protect employees who are fired or disciplined for being under the influence of marijuana at work, even if the drug is medically prescribed.
6) Medical requirements for cannabis are broad.
There is a list of specific medical conditions that would qualify a patient for medical marijuana, such as cancer or “intractable migraines.” But Amendment 2 also gives broad discretion to doctors to decide if marijuana could be used for any other chronic pain management or other medical conditions.
7) ... And so are the forms marijuana takes.
Amendment 2 lists the methods medical marijuana may be administered, which include nearly every conceivable form. Smoking, capsules, oils, edibles, skin patches or any other method recommended by a doctor are all allowed.