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Medical marijuana officially legal in Missouri

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December 6th marks the first day medical marijuana is legal in Missouri.

Amendment 2 received just over 65 percent of votes in last month's general election.

But there's still a lot of work to be done.

As of December 6th, anyone passing through the Show-Me State with medical marijuana from another state is protected by law.

For Missourians, it gets a little complicated.

Dr. James Tucker practices Family Medicine at Hannibal Regional Medical Group. Tucker says just because medical marijuana is now legal, doesn't mean doctors have the authority to prescribe it.

"Physicians cannot prescribe it at all due to the fact that it is a category 1 medication by the FDA. What we can provide is a letter to patients saying they could have it and it is at the benefit of them to have marijuana," Tucker said.

Tucker says medication can be classified as one of five categories by the FDA.

"The category 1 medications are not allowed to be studied freely, are not allowed to be distributed by physicians, and marijuana is one of those medications currently. The changing of that category would have to come federally before we could see interstate trade with marijuana and allow for use," Tucker stated.

Tucker says a number of rules and regulations have to be decided before doctors can write that letter.

"The issue is that marijuana has been studied in a very limited capacity as a pharmaceutical drug. We currently have the ability to prescribe THC in pill-form to patients who meet a certain number of requirements and have a certain number of medical conditions," Tucker explained.

Dan Viets serves as President of New Approach Missouri, the organization backing Amendment 2.

"People have to also be licensed to cultivate, to process, to test and to retail medical cannabis. So all together, we think it's going to be very late next year or possibly early 2020 before there are actually dispensaries selling cannabis," Viets stated.

Viets says he doesn't see the state legalizing recreational marijuana in the future.

"Right now, polling indicates Missourians are not ready to pass an adult use law," Viets said.

"There's a lot of legal work that has to be done," Tucker said.

As for what's next--how much marijuana you can grow, how much you carry, and the amount prescribed has to be decided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. That deadline is June 4, 2019.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 33 states.

Those closest to home include Iowa, which just opened its first dispensaries this past Saturday. As well as Illinois, Minnesota, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, recreational marijuana has now been legalized in at least ten states.

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