By CAMMY BLOUNT of the Forum
Recently, two associations have been established in Missouri to petition for the legalization of cannabis. Those organizations are Show-Me Cannabis and Sensible Missouri.
Sensible Missouri is a statewide cooperation of cannabis therapy patients, committed to the task of treating the chronically and terminally ill. Its mission is to seek to educate the public in regard to all aspects of medical cannabis and its medicinal applications. Show-Me Cannabis Regulation is an association of organizations and individuals who believe that cannabis prohibition is a failed policy, and regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol would better control the production, distribution and consumption of cannabis than the current criminal market system does.
Mark Pedersen, a fulltime activist, chief editor of the Medical Cannabis Journal and the founder of Sensible Missouri, campaigns in many major cities across the state. Speaking at open forums, he uses lectures and films such as What if Cannabis Cured Cancer in order to educate the public about the possible benefits of cannabis.
“I’ve interviewed over 150 people with a wide range of illnesses,” stated Pedersen. “For years now, we’ve worked to try to get our legislatures to pass a House bill that would provide protection for people who are chronically and terminally ill, who would choose to use cannabis as an adjunct and alternative to the pharmaceuticals. The ones who need cannabis the most to treat their terminal illness don’t have access because of the artificially inflated price that prohibition has created. We believe that our bill will do away with this issue.”
In 2007, Pedersen interviewed Douglas McVay, Director of Research for Common Sense for Drug Policy at the Missouri State NORML Conference in Columbia, MO. Doug, a cancer survivor, credits cannabis for aiding his chances of recovery and easing the affects of chemotherapy.
“It had quite a lot to do with my recovery, if only because I was able to eat. I’d wasted down to 128 pounds after trying the Megace appetite stimulant. I would become nauseated and weak, things that you don’t want in an appetite stimulant. The cannabis provided pain relief, anti nausea and was a mood enhancer for me ”.
This past June, petitions were distributed in Springfield, MO by the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation to launch an initiative that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis. The initiative seeks an amendment to an ordinance so that adults are not arrested and instead face a fine, community service or counseling for possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana. The most severe penalty would be a $150 fine. This measure will save Springfield’s taxpayers thousands of dollars in law enforcement expenses every year.
While the results of the petition would lessen the blow to many citizens’ records, not all agree with the results it would bring, if approved. Springfield’s City Attorney Dan Wichmer said he reviewed the proposed changes to the ordinance and doesn’t think they would be legal.
“I believe it conflicts state and federal law,” he said, although illegal language wouldn’t stop the proposal from going to a vote if enough signatures are gathered. “That’s council’s call, and I’m still looking into it.”
Show-Me Cannabis Regulation board member Maranda Reynolds said she hopes the petition will show the voters people would like to see laws concerning marijuana changed.
“Our goal here is to lessen penalties,” said Reynolds. “This is just a step in changing laws around the state”.