JEFFERSON CITY - Medical marijuana would become legal in Missouri if a bill heard by a House committee is passed into law.
The House Emerging issues committee heard testimony on a bill that would allow physicians to issue prescriptions for medical marijuana and would set up a proper licensing process for medical marijuana dispenseries.
The committee heard a range of testimony from television personality Montel Williams to Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars Representative Tom Mundell.
Mundell told the committee his post-traumatic stress disorder improved considerably after he began using marijuana.
"I was on 71 pills a day," Mundell testified. "I was taking 41 in the morning and 30 at night. And I take three now."
Mundell said he would not have discovered the benefits of marijuana if it was not for his wife. He told the committee that while having a PTSD episode in the garden of his home, his wife forced him to smoke a marijuana cigarette which helped him calm down.
Williams uses medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of his multiple sclerosis. He told the committee he tried everything he could to alleviate his pain and medical marijuana was the only thing that worked.
"I'm going to say to you right now, I could care less about anybody who wants to get high," Williams testified. "Your problem, not mine. I'm only concerned about people who need to have relief with medication."
Lawmakers said they were concerned about the potential cost of opening up what they called a certified care center. These care centers, which would serve as dispenseries, would need to be approved by both local and state authorities. Representatives compared this process to starting a franchise and said the bill did not guarantee any sort of refund for care centers that would not be approved.
But Williams said the ability to open certified care centers would stop the cycle of healthcare professionals treating symptoms with unnecessary amounts of medications because of individual reactions.
"You go to the doctor, if the Vicodin makes your stomach upset so they give you a Percocet," Williams said. "Percocet makes your stomach upset, they give you an ultrasound. If that's not strong enough they give you an oxycontin. We chase this, why? Because not all of it works for everyone."
Williams told that consensus shows that medical marijuana works as a treatment option. He testified that access to medical marijuana upheld American ideals.
"I have to ask how dare you deny someone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Williams asked legislators.
Other organizations in favor of legalizing medical marijuana include the Missouri Nurses Association. The National Narcotics Officers Associations' Coalition testified against the legislation.