With all the buzz surrounding the legalization of medical marijuana in Missouri, I decided to do a little research and find out what all the fuss is about. Medical marijuana can be used to treat things ranging from anxiety to the side effects of chemotherapy such as muscle spasm and nausea. Additional research on my part led me to discover that studies performed by the U.S. National Cancer Institute even go as far as to show that marijuana kills cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
I began asking around to find out how to go about obtaining my medical marijuana license. A friend who suffers from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) shared a business card and referred me to Green Harvest Clinic, LLC. As the card directed, I visited the website to schedule an appointment, but first checked out the qualifying conditions per article XIV of the Missouri Constitution. Qualifying conditions include:
- Intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment
- A chronic medical condition that causes severe, persistent pain or persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome
- Debilitating psychiatric disorders, including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress order, if diagnosed by a state licensed psychiatrist
- Human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
- A chronic medical condition that is normally treated with a prescription medication that could lead to physical or psychological dependence, when a physician determines that medical use of marijuana could be effective in treating that condition and would serve as a safer alternative to the prescription
- A terminal illness
- In the professional judgement of a physician, any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition, including, but not limited to, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism, neuropathies, sickle cell anemia, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia and wasting syndrome.
Having suffered from migraines for several years that only respond to CBD oil, I thought medical marijuana might be worth a try. My initial visit to Green Harvest Clinic, LLC was $150 and I was given the option to pay by credit card online or at the time of my appointment. The website directed me to complete and upload the qualifying form MO 580 3277. I was able to schedule an appointment for the following day. Unsure of what to expect, I arrived a few minutes early to my appointment and was pleasantly surprised to find Green Harvest Clinic located in an office building on East Cherry. Upon entering the office, I was greeted by a clean cut, professional and very helpful receptionist. The office was exactly what you would expect the office of a physician to be – clean and somewhat sterile, but this office was a little different in the fact that the magazine selection on the table ranged from magazines touting the benefits of CBD to Skunk Magazine. The receptionist asked me to sign some paperwork like a HIPPA form and also initial that I am familiar with and understand the side effects of medical marijuana. After completing the forms, it was time for me to see the doctor. Dr. L.E. Mire, MD was professional and knowledgeable, but also pleasantly quirky. He asked me if I was familiar with the qualifying conditions and talked to me a little bit about the amount I should be using to prevent and treat my intractable migraines which turns out to be “one to two tokes a day.” Dr. Mire was very helpful in answering all my questions. He explained that with a medical marijuana license it is legal to possess up to four ounces, but most patients only need a prescription for an ounce. When my appointment was finished, he sent me back out front where the receptionist uploaded all my paperwork, took a copy of my drivers license and took my picture to upload to my MMMP (Missouri Medical Marijuana Program) application. He asked me to create a password and explained that he created an account for me onine and that I would be receiving an email from Green Harvest Clinic, LLC with detailed information on how to complete my form. Within an hour I had received both my follow up email from the clinic and my email from MMMP. I was able to submit everything, and my application is now pending. Green Works, LLC advised me that while the website says it canMy license should be here any day so I should be set to begin my one to two tokes a day, right? Not so fast. Dr. Mire advised that while there aren’t any dispensaries in Missouri open until January, Arkansas and Oklahoma both currently have dispensaries that are fully operational. Green Harvest Clinic did advise that before making the trip that I should call and make sure they will sell to someone with a Missouri license because as with any business, they have the right to refuse service to anyone.
I sat down with criminal defense attorney Adam Woody to find out where I stand legally once I possess my medical marijuana license in Missouri. It turns out there is still a lot of gray area, particularly in the time between now and January when dispensaries begin to open here in Springfield and across the state of Missouri. He advised that while you can purchase marijuana at dispensaries in other states you still can’t transport marijuana across state lines, license or not. Adam also advised me there are some downsides to having my medical marijuana license. Disadvantages include:
- You can’t purchase or legally own a firearm.
- You can’t possess a commercial transportation license. Currently the Department of Transportation does not authorize the use of medical marijuana. If a transportation employee tests positive for a drug test, medical marijuana card wont’ protect them.
- You can’t hold a government job. If you work for the Federal Government, medical marijuana use will cost you the job; even in a state where it is completely legal. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation clarified that even medical marijuana patients were not allowed to use weed, and a failed test could lead to termination of employment.
- Annual renewal fees. In my case, Green Harvest Clinic advised me the annual renewal fee is $100, but for each friend you refer, you receive $5 off your renewal fee the following year.
My final question for Adam was if with my medical marijuana license if I can legally go to a restaurant or bar and just light up on the patio? Adam said he “highly doubts you can light up in public, but none of that stuff has really been hashed out (pun intended).”