Medical Marijuana | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical Marijuana

Across the country, states desperate to prevent opioid addiction are considering medical cannabis as a solution.

Citing the opioid crisis, lawmakers in several states are looking to initiate or expand their medical marijuana programs including KentuckyNew YorkNew Jersey and Indiana. And in Illinois, where opioids have claimed nearly 11,000 lives over the past decade, the legislature is considering a measure that would allow patients with an opioid prescription get access to marijuana instead.


HCI Alternatives in Collinsville is one of 53 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed by the State of Illinois
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state's program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

Colorful photos hang on the walls at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville. The marijuana dispensary is set up like a typical doctor's office.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Jim Neely, one of a handful of doctors in the Missouri General Assembly, believes medical marijuana would help people with terminal illnesses.

That includes his daughter, who died of cancer several years ago.

Dozens of cannabis clones grow under high-intensity lights at BeLeaf's growing and processing facility in Earth City, Missouri.
File photo | Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri failed to pass the state legislature last session or qualify for the ballot next week, but nine pot-related measures are up for votes in other states on Election Day.  As laws and public opinion toward the cannabis plant continue shifting nationwide, the Show Me State is taking a wait-and-see approach.

StanJourdan | Flickr

For now, it’s all over but the counting. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office will be busy the next few weeks determining whether five initiative-petition proposals collected enough valid signatures to get on the state’s August or November ballot.

peter.a photography | Flickr

Supporters of legalizing marijuana for medical use in Missouri now have only one option this year – the ballot box.

That comes after the state House last week defeated House Bill 2213. In its original form, the measure would have allowed for medical cannabis centers in Missouri, which would have sold medical cannabis to patients with a "debilitating medical condition."

Front of building for HCI Alternatives
(courtesy HCI Alternatives)

The 5,000-square foot facility is the first of its kind in the Metro East.

One of just 23 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Illinois, HCI Alternatives opened its doors at noon on Monday in Collinsville.

"It’s been a very long road, and we’re all really excited," said Scott Abbott, director of HCI security and compliance, "and I know a lot of the patients who have been calling us are equally excited."

While former Governor Pat Quinn signed Illinois’ Compassionate Care Act into law in August 2013, legal marijuana sales did not begin until November.

sign for medical marijuana
Wikimedia Commons

Voter ID, a state House with fewer members, minimum wage. These are all initiative-petition proposals looking to get on the 2016 ballot. And it's already make-or-break time in Missouri.

For those initiatives that will be successful, strategy is everything.

Case in point: A pro-marijuana coalition called “New Approach for Missouri’’ filed its latest initiative-petition approach this week to get a proposed constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot to legalize pot for medical use.

peter.a photography | Flickr

Backers of medical marijuana want Missourians to decide if doctors can be allowed to prescribe the drug to critically ill patients.

Two ballot initiatives that would do just that were filed on Thursday.

sign for medical marijuana
Wikimedia Commons

JEFFERSON CITY — Members of Show-Me Cannabis are hoping to persuade lawmakers to support legislation legalizing some marijuana use in Missouri. 

On Tuesday, the group, and dozens from around the state, roamed the capitol advocating for six bills the Senate and House will debate later this session.

John Payne, executive director of the group, said the bills are a sign that legalization is becoming more acceptable.

Adam, 37, Michaela, 3, and Kristy Frederick, 37, on a family hike in Colorado. The family moved to the state in 2013, in the hopes of treating Michaela's frequent seizures with an oil made from medical cannabis.
Frederick Family

 The state of Illinois has already missed a self-imposed deadline to license medical marijuana cultivators and dispensaries by the end of 2014.

The law allows people suffering from one of about 40 conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval. It passed the Illinois legislature more than a year ago, but with a Republican governor soon to take office, it’s unclear exactly when state regulators will issue permits to the future suppliers.

In the meantime, patients continue to wait.

In Denver, One Family Delays a Homecoming