Public attends meeting to discuss medical marijuana rules

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JEFFERSON CITY - An engaged crowd filled the room at the Governor office building Wednesday night at a hearing on medical marijuana regulations Wednesday. 

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) took comment from the public for more than two hours. Those in the crowd had opinions ranging from strict regulation under Missouri's new medical marijuana law to seeing the new law as a way for local entrepreneurs to take advantage of the market. 

Among those in the crowd was Ellie McDaniel. She is an Oklahoma patient who is advocating for medical marijuana regulations in Missouri. 

"I have pain I deal with every month and I don't like taking pain medications," McDaniel said. 

She is also a businesswoman. McDaniel runs a medical marijuana cultivation center and dispensary in Oklahoma.

"It's been great to be in the industry and get to change lives basically," McDaniel said. 

Now she wants to open a marijuana cultivation site in Missouri with her family in Camden County. 

"Me and my aunt are wanting to start this one here because Oklahoma is going so well and the opportunity's here," she said. 

The family already has a potential site ready in Laurie, Mo.

McDaniel's uncle, Tracey Smith, bought the property to invest in the potential business. He said his family approached him with the proposal and it was a risk he was willing to take. 

"We think we could really do some good in Missouri," Smith said. 

McDaniel said she understands some people want to get involved in the medical marijuana industry to make money, but she said the patients should come first. She said regulation is the way to protect them. 

"I understand people want to make money and that's great, too, but we cannot forget about the patients," 

Smith said regulations are vital to a smooth industry.

"Without law, everything is chaos," he said. 

McDaniel said she has been working to help regulate Missouri's medical marijuana industry with the Missouri Cannabis Industry Association. McDaniel said she and the group have sent regulation suggestions to the DHSS. 

"I've been just trying to help in any way I can to make sure this passes smoothly and that they don't overcomplicate it," she said. 

Smith said the DHSS is the "ideal" department to handle the medical marijuana rules. He said the state can learn from other states' regulations. 

"This is not going away. It's a constitutional issue," he said. 

Smith said the DHSS could have draft regulations released as early as the end of February.