On November 6th, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment to allow medical cannabis. The measure passed by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent. Under the new law, qualified patients who have approval from their physicians will receive identification cards from the state that will allow them and their registered caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants and purchase at least four ounces of cannabis from dispensaries on a monthly basis. Doctors will be able to recommend medical cannabis for any condition they see fit; there is no specific list of qualifying disorders. Additionally, the state regulators will issue licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as cultivation, testing and infused product manufacturing businesses. There will be a four percent retail tax on medical cannabis sales, with revenue being earmarked for services for military veterans once implementation and regulations costs are covered. Click here to read the full article.
This has potential to create unintended legal consequences for users in Kansas. Why? Because Kansas still prohibits medical marijuana regardless of whether the accused has a state issued marijuana card. This situation will occur sooner than later, primarily as a result of routine car stops for minor traffic violations. The Missouri driver and marijuana card holder gets stopped on I-35 in Kansas. The officer smells marijuana or can see the items in plain view. The driver freely admits to ownership of the marijuana but happily presents his medical marijuana card to the cop. This is when the confusion occurs: the marijuana card does NOT protect the driver in Kansas. It is still illegal to possess any quantity of marijuana in Kansas. Certainly a medical use card can mitigate one's guilt. However, do not expect Kansas prosecutors to automatically dismiss these charges. They can proceed with a criminal complaint under current Kansas law. I would suggest a more practical approach would be to offer a plea to a "littering violation" and a fine of $250. This type of "plea bargain" is common in Missouri prior to the passage of Amendment 2. It is too early to determine how the "medical use" defense will work in Missouri courts; it would seem that prosecutors will have full discretion whether to accept the accused's medical card or the appearance that one is seeking a card for legitimate medical purposes. Regardless, the new law was long overdue and I would propose that Kansas follows Missouri in the promotion of medical use marijuana laws.