Monday, February 18, 2019

Burnett: Medical marijuana bills drawing attention in Missouri House

(From Rep. Ingrid Burnett, D-Kansas City)

The Medical Marijuana Amendment 2 discussion is getting more and more interesting. As specified in the language, the Department of Health and Senior Services has until June 4, to promulgate the rules.

To that end, they held a public hearing in Jefferson City on February 13. According to The Missouri Times, the house was packed with people expressing concerns that it would have affordable and equal access to all Missourians in need of it. There was also some consensus that Missourians, be they growers, dispensers or patients, get first consideration over out of state producers or big business.

Meanwhile, 11 House Bills dealing with marijuana have been filed, 2 of which are in play. HB 341, introduced by Representative Ron Hicks (R), allows certain marijuana-related offenses and violations to be expunged if the offenses or violations occurred in Missouri prior to the issuance of a patient identification card. 

It has made it out of the Committee on Criminal Justice and is headed to Rules Committee. I imagine that will be a long debate with a lot of amendments offered when it gets to the House Floor for perfection. HB 829, introduced by Representative David Wood (R), Creates provisions stating any litigation that Missouri is involved in due to medical marijuana shall be paid out of the Department of Health and Senior Services’ portion of the Missouri Veterans’ Health and Care Fund.

On the Senate side, 4 bills have been filed dealing with marijuana. A complete list of bills that have been introduced this session regarding the legalization of marijuana can be found here. The DHSS timeline on licensing and regulations for medical marijuana can be found here.

Since we’re on the topic of drugs, on February 11, the House of Representatives voted 103-53 to advance a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) bill to the Senate. If it gets through the Senate, this bill will establish a statewide system for tracking the dispensing of prescription narcotics. Even though some counties implement a PDMP, Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewideprescription drug monitoring program. Opponents believe the personal information that is collected by a PDMP could be hacked, but supporters view them as a vital tool to combat opioid abuse. This was the third time I was able to vote “yes” to advance this bill to the Senate. With some newly elected Senators in place, the speculators are giving this bill a good chance of getting to the Governor’s desk.

Bill That Supports Children’s Rights Getting Attention

On Monday, 2/11, I had the honor of joining with the Legislative Black Caucus at a press conference highlighting criminal justice reform bills. 

Among the bills that were highlighted was HB 42, which would prevent children from waiving their right for legal counsel unless that waiver is made in open court and is recorded in writing. This is an effort I started about a year ago, and I am happy to report that it has been assigned to the Committee on Children and Families. It has received wide bipartisan support as well as support from judges, prosecutors, juvenile officers, and others. 

Check out this video that explains HB 42. Several media outlets published stories about our press conference including The Missouri Times, The Columbia Missourian, and the Houston Herald. It also ran in the hometown paper of Governor Parson - The Bolivar Herald Free Press. Here's hoping the Governor reads his paper.

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