The state House has given first-round approval to asking voters whether to approve a very narrow legalization of medical marijuana.

Representative Dave Hinson (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Dave Hinson (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The bill would allow for the growing of marijuana and limit its legal use to those in hospice care for terminal cancer. An earlier version had broader allowances for use by patients with other medical conditions.

Bill sponsor Dave Hinson (R-St. Clair) called the 91-59 vote a step forward.

“Yes, I would have preferred we would have kept it with Alzheimer’s and ALS and other cancer patients that have a need,” said Hinson.

Hinson said during debate he believes medical marijuana might have helped his father, who died of cancer.

“So why don’t we stand up, get the politics out of this room, and do what’s right for dying patients,” asked Hinson.

Some lawmakers stood by their opposition to medical marijuana. Representative Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) said states that have passed such laws have seen increases in illegal use of pot.

“The amount of usage in 12- to 17-year-olds, the high-usage states, it’s all states that have medical marijuana, with the couple of recreational use states way up at the top,” said Frederick.

Some lawmakers who support medical marijuana, including Representative Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin), voted against the bill, saying it was too “watered down.”

“This bill does not advance the cause of providing compassionate care. It does not advance the cause of getting us toward a more rational place on our marijuana policies,” said Dogan.

Other legislators like Representative Lynn Morris (R-Nixa) said the bill could help some patients nearing the end of their lives.

“I just don’t want to be one … to deprive someone, after the physician, the patient and that family decides that may be the last thing that they could use during their last hours of life,” said Morris.

The debate comes as a petition is being circulated that would put a medical marijuana ballot question before voters. Some lawmakers urged for passage of this bill so that what goes before voters is something that has been vetted by the legislature.

Another favorable vote would send the measure to the Senate.