House passes medical marijuana bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House passed a bill that would allow the legalization of medical marijuana. The next stop is the Senate. 

Rep. Shapad Dogan, D-Ballwin, a co-sponsor of the bill, said it's overdue. 

"There are already a majority of states across the country that have medical marijuana in one form or another," he said. "This is supported by the overwhelming majority of Missourians." 

Before the bill passed through the House, Dogan offered an amendment to expand the medical marijuana coverage to more than terminal diseases, adding epilepsy, AIDS, PTSD and more.

Dogan doesn't believe the bill is a stepping stone to legalizing marijuana for other uses.

"I think people in legislature and people across the state are able distinguish between recreational and medicinal," he said. 

Sheila Dundon, a cancer survivor and medical marijuana advocate, said chemotherapy took a toll on her body, and marijuana would've helped ease the side effects. 

"There's a lot of drugs out there for the side effects and so on, but nothing seems to treat everything," she said. "Cannabis works better."

Those who oppose the bill worry it could increase youth access to marijuana. Joy Sweeney, the executive director for Council 4 Drug Free Youth, said the language in the bill concerns her. 

"I have so many problems with the looseness of the legislation and the oversight, or lack thereof, that it's not about prohibiting relief from people with terminal illness it's about reducing access to youth." 

Dundon said she worries the bill might not make it past the Senate. On Tuesday, sponsor Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron, was working on securing support. Dogan said he is confident the Senate will come along.

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