Missourians could be voting on a medical marijuana proposal in two years, if a Columbia marijuana reform advocate is successful.
Columbia attorney Dan Viets tells Missourinet he hopes to get a medical marijuana proposal on the statewide ballot in 2018. Viets says the Missouri Legislature is never going to pass what he calls a “good” medical marijuana law.
“I doubt they’re (the Legislature) going to pass any kind of medical marijuana law. We’re not counting on that at all,” Viets says. “We are looking to the voters of this state to reform the medical marijuana laws. We hope to have a good medical marijuana proposal on the ballot here in November of 2018.”
The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (MAPA) opposes Viets’ plan.
Viets notes the Journal of the American Medical Association reported in 2014 that states with legal medical marijuana have seen a 20 to 33 percent reduction in opioid drug deaths.
“Their study showed that, on average, there is a 25 percent reduction in death from opioid overdose in states where people have access to marijuana as medicine,” Viets says.
Viets also says the “Journal of Pain” reports a survey found that cannabis use was associated with 64 percent lower opioid use in patients with chronic pain.
The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys tweeted at Missourinet this week, after we quoted Viets as saying that states with legal medical marijuana have seen reductions in opioid drug deaths. MAPA’s tweet said “Trading one drug addiction epidemic for another isn’t the answer. Why not end both marijuana and opioid abuse?”
Last Friday at a drug free youth forum in Jefferson City, drug treatment and recovery professionals and law enforcement officers warned Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) about the effects they say marijuana is having on Missouri communities.
One law enforcement official from eastern Missouri’s Franklin County told Senator Blunt that 80 percent of the marijuana coming into his county is from Colorado, where marijuana is legal for those 21 and older. Osage County Prosecutor Amanda Grellner, a participant at that roundtable, told Blunt that Colorado’s legalization has also impacted hospitals in that state.
Viets sees it differently, saying that it’s unrealistic to try to eliminate the use of both drugs, because pain is a reality. He says that the treatment of pain requires the use of these substances, adding that “to the extent that we can substitute cannabis for opioid drugs, we will save lives”.
Viets says marijuana reduces pain and reduces the need for narcotic painkillers.
It’s unclear whether the Missouri Legislature will address the medical marijuana issue during the 2017 session. The election for all 163 Missouri House seats and 17 Missouri Senate seats is in November. However, legislators cannot pre-file bills until December 1.