Medical marijuana | KCUR

Medical marijuana

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

A few minutes of your time and about $100 gets you certified for Missouri’s medical marijuana program. A clinic near St. Louis even offered a “Pot of Gold Legalization” discount for St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t want to leave your house? Try an online appointment, no medical records needed.

Missouri’s fledgling program, approved by voters in 2018, is under an intense amount of scrutiny — and not just by lawmakers. Physicians themselves are concerned about loopholes like telemedicine and a lack of oversight when it comes to certifying patients for pot. 

Segment 1: Almost 35,000 Missourians have received medical marijuana ID cards but have nowhere to buy legally.

Despite being approved by voters in late 2018, state officials estimate that the earliest medical cannabis will be available for purchase will be this June or July. It could be a year for all 192 state-certified dispensaries to be up and running. Once open the price of products will be determined by market forces and competing with marijuana sold on the street.

Segment 1: Missouri looks to start opening medical marijuana dispensaries in June.

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services has issued licenses for 192 medical marijuana dispensaries since a voter approved initiative for medical cannabis passed in 2018. Once patients are able to start purchasing, and in some cases growing, the product, the state could look to issue more dispensary licenses based on supply and demand.

KCUR 89.3 file photo

As city and state governments across the country legalize marijuana, Kansas City’s mayor wants to make it easier to clean the slate for people convicted of some cannabis-related offenses.

Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced an online system Tuesday afternoon that lets people convicted on municipal marijuana possession charges in Kansas City ask for pardons — free of charge.

“What I want to be able to do for these folks is to say, ‘You might’ve made a mistake at some point, but that we’re going to be fair in how we apply the law in Kansas City and in Missouri,’” Lucas said.

KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Kansas City metro area, and a couple of cities just outside of it, will soon have 45 medical marijuana dispensaries. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued dispensary licenses Thursday, marking a major milepost since voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that legalized medical marijuana. 

Daniel Caudill / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — The 2020 Kansas Legislature is underway. And while Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly laid out some of her top priorities during the State of the State address on Wednesday, Republican leaders of the House and Senate (and Kelly's fellow Democrats) have some different goals. 

Here are five issues that will be top of mind for the governor and lawmakers as the session heats up.

Chris Neal

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Health care — who gets it, who doesn’t, and how we pay for it — will command as much attention in Missouri and Kansas politics this year as on the national scene.

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — When it comes to medical marijuana, Kansas may end up looking more like Ohio than Missouri — with edibles and topicals only, no smoking.

The Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs recommended potential regulations on Wednesday for the 2020 legislative session, which starts in January. It’s far from the first time the legislature would consider medical marijuana: The Kansas Health Institute says 18 bills have been introduced since 2006.

With the deadline to submit an application for a medical marijuana business closed, more than 2,100 were received, bringing in more than $5.3 million in fees, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 

On Thursday, the department announced it would extend the deadline to 4:30 p.m. Monday. Initially the cutoff was midnight Saturday, but with a slow start early in the application period, the department expected an influx toward the end. 

Segment 1: Application numbers for growing medical marijuana in Missouri are below expectations

With only a few days left to submit the required paperwork, there are less than 100 applicants for the 60 cultivator licenses Missouri is ready to award. A panel of those involved in working to supply medical marijuana dispensaries by spring 2020 explain what goes into creating the state's regulations and what hopeful cultivators have already done to be considered.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Angela Boykin watched her cousin die from cancer in 2016. Loretta — or Lo, as everyone called her — suffered through significant pain. So when Missouri voters passed the medical marijuana law in November, she wanted in on opening a dispensary in Kansas City. 

Missouri starts officially accepting applications for medical marijuana businesses Saturday, and it’s a potentially lucrative business: A cannabis data research company estimates that by 2025, Missouri could see $111 million in medical marijuana sales yearly. 

But Boykin and other applicants are black, and even though Missouri by law can’t factor in race or gender when awarding licenses, the national trend is that pot business owners and founders are overwhelmingly white. 

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE — Before starting his CBD company, Chris Brunin researched the competition, the labs they used, the products they sold.

He checked out ingredient suppliers and organic hemp farmers. He took everyone’s pitches with a heapful of salt.

“The hemp industry is like the Wild West and Wall Street had a baby,” said Brunin. “You have to vet everything and everybody … to make sure you’re not getting messed with or lied to.”

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Across Missouri, hundreds of people have applied to grow, manufacture and sell medical marijuana. On Thursday, the Kansas City Council decided how far the businesses can be from schools, churches and day cares.

Under the constitutional amendment Missouri voters approved in November, the buffer zone for cannabis cultivation farms, testing sites and dispensaries can be no greater than 1,000 feet.

“When you close down such a large part of the city with the distances, you have almost no landlords left to lease to. And the ones that want to, want to charge $30- to $40,000 nonrefundable,” said Bianca Sullivan, an attorney looking to get into the medical cannabis business.

Segment 1: Medical marijuana in Kansas, and the use of hemp in farming

In the first conversation, reporter Nomin Ujyediin broke down why she thinks the path to legalization of medical marijuana in Kansas is a rocky one. Then, reporter Brian Grimmett discussed the industrialization of hemp in Kansas.

Kansas News Service / Kansas News Service

One might think the end of her first legislative session as Kansas governor would give Laura Kelly some relief.

"Oh, not much," she said. "We've been extraordinarily busy."

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

When it comes to marijuana, Kansas is a red state in an increasingly green country.

Three of its neighbors — Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri — have legalized some form of the drug in recent years. Yet Kansas remains one of four states in the country without a comprehensive medical or recreational marijuana program.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media file photo

When Missouri’s medical marijuana program is fully underway, there may be more of the drug produced than consumed. That’s according to researchers at the University of Missouri, who provided the state with an economic analysis of the program Monday.

She already has had to bury her 17-year-old daughter Claire. Gwen Hartley's mission now is to have Kansas lawmakers help save the life of her 12-year-old daughter Lola.

Segment 1: Primary winners will have to highlight differences going into June's general election.  

Two candidates managed to distinguish themselves in a pack of eleven contenders for Kansas City mayor and are moving on to the general election. Quinton Lucas and Jolie Justus offered their thoughts on why they won and what they will do to gain votes in the general election.

Missouri legislators gave first-round approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to expunge pot-related offenses from their records.

It’s an outgrowth of a voter-approved decision in November legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

As Missouri moves toward implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program, state officials on Wednesday warned potential patients to hold off on paying for a physician certification until June.

Missouri’s health department has already fielded more than 400 pre-applications from potential marijuana growers and sellers.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which will administer the state’s medical marijuana program, won’t begin accepting formal applications for dispensaries, cultivation facilities and manufacturing plants until summer.

That hasn’t stopped potential businesses from paying more than $3 million in application fees to the state.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Medical marijuana is not yet available for purchase in Missouri, but patients may be able to jump start the process and get it with the help of a newly opened clinic.

The Green Clinic opened for business in a loft in the River Market in Kansas City on Wednesday afternoon, with two full-time doctors on staff to determine whether patients qualify to obtain medical marijuana.

Marco Verch / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: Some CBD advocates claim medicinal benefits, but research is still nominal. 

The market for CBD is growing, and a large number of shops have sprouted up around Kansas City. Users claim it helps with anxiety, Alzheimer's, and plenty other pains, but medical testing and research is still catching up to newly loosened law concerning the hemp-derived product. We discussed safety concerns and expectations for the future of this new emerging industry.

It’s going to be awhile before medical marijuana will be available to Missouri patients.

The timetable imposed by Amendment 2 – which Missouri voters overwhelmingly backed in November – will likely give the state close to a year before pot in its various forms will be legally available for patients.

Dr. Patricia Hurford, a Kirkwood-based physician, is optimistic that the wait will be worth it. She also practices in Illinois, which has had a medical-marijuana program in place for several years.

Segment 1: What medical marijuana looks like in practice.

Missouri votes approved Amendment 2 in November, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the state. So what happens next? We'll talk about all the hoops that have to be jumped through before dispensaries start opening in our area.

CC - eggrole / Flickr

Segment 1: Medical cannabis is now legal in Missouri, but doctors are not trained on how to prescribe the drug. 

It's been two weeks since Missourians voted to allow the use of medical marijuana in the state. However, because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, research on its efficacy and side effects is limited. The executive dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences spoke to concerns physicians have about recommending a drug they don't know enough about.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Regulate us, please

In 2013, a coalition of school districts formed. They’d be laboratories for new ideas. If they could show the state they were serious enough about making classrooms work in new and better ways, they’d be freed from some state rules — notably, who they could hire as teachers and how much testing they had to run their students through.

The state law outlining the special status was limited to a small number of school districts. Ultimately, Blue Valley, Kansas City, Fredonia, Concordia, Hugoton, Marysville and McPherson schools signed up.

CC - eggrole / Flickr

A week after voters approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced today that it will stop processing some marijuana possession cases.

Amendment 2, which legalizes medical marijuana with a 4 percent sales tax for veterans programs and job training, passed with 66 percent approval from Missouri voters and even more support from those in Jackson County. Two other medical marijuana proposals were on the state ballot but failed.

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