Medical marijuana

As Missouri moves toward implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program, state officials on March 6 warned potential patients to hold off on paying for a physician certification until June.

At a public listening session on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, Kansas City physician Daniel Towle said there has been confusion surrounding state guidance on physician certifications – even after the state posted a clarification on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website.

People who have one of several qualifying medical conditions must be certified by a physician. But that certification cannot be more than 30 days old by the time the state starts accepting patient applications in July.

“I think you may have a lot of doctors and clinics already jumping in prematurely,” said Lyndall Fraker, who heads the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ medical marijuana unit.

More than 100 people attended the event, where much of the discussion centered on precisely how many regulations are needed. Some argued for more regulations to protect children and young people from purchasing or being tempted to seek out medical marijuana. Others said too much regulation could lead to lawsuits or a larger black market.

Numerous participants also asked officials to allow licensed growers to share space. They argued that such an arrangement, similar to a traditional farming co-op, would help growers share the burden of creating a secure facility.

State officials plan to unveil the final rules for marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and edible manufacturers in June, with licenses expected to be issued by the end of the year.

Already, more than 400 entities have pre-filed applications, along with fees totaling more than $3 million. DHSS is declining to make public the names of the people or companies filing the early applications.

Chris Haxel is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email him at chaxel@kcur.org, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisHaxel.

Reprinted with permission from news.stlpublicradio.org.

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