JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Missouri marijuana proponents scored a victory Tuesday as the state’s Republican-dominated House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Jim Neely, R-Cameron, would make smokeless marijuana available to terminally ill patients to ease their suffering. It also covers patients suffering from chronic debilitating conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
The bill passed on a 112-44 vote.
Neely, a physician, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the bill is necessary to ease the pain of people who are about to die.
“This is the right thing to do for Missouri,” Neely said.
Neely is optimistic that the measure would make it through the state Senate, which is also heavily controlled by Republicans. There are just three weeks left in the legislative session.
Opponents argue that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, even though certain states including Colorado, Oregon and California have legalized it for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Under Neely’s bill, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services would be authorized to issue medical cannabis registration cards to residents 18 and older who can provide a signed statement from a doctor.
A similar bill was voted down in the Missouri House in 2016. Since then, multiple ballot initiatives seeking to leave it up to Missouri voters whether to legalize marijuana have failed.