There's still hope for medical marijuana in 2014.
Despite some setbacks earlier this year, marijuana-reform advocates say that a medical-marijuana bill is off to a good start in the legislative process and might have a chance of getting on the November ballot.
SB 951, which was introduced by Senator Jason Holsman, would legalize marijuana solely for medicinal purposes. People suffering from certain conditions would be allowed up to four ounces of their medicine and sales on it would be taxed at a rate of 8 percent.
The state senate's General Laws Committee held the hearing Tuesday and allowed several reform advocates, including activists and mothers of sick children, to speak their mind about the law proposal. And according to those who testified, the feeling in the room was that the bill had a good chance of getting to the next stage.
"I think it went really well," John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis, tells Daily RFT. "I'm optimistic the committee will approve it. They'll probably make some amendments to it, but I'm optimistic they will approve it."
Heidi Rayl testified in front of the senate committee and told the story of her four-year-old son Zayden, who has a severe form of epilepsy that causes him multiple seizures a day. Rayl gives her son cannabis oil to lessen the seizures.
Rayl tells us that the committee appeared genuinely interested in the idea of medical marijuana and her son's treatment
"They were very receptive," Rayl says. "They asked questions about different forms of medical marijuana, which parts of the plants worked."
However, she points out that the committee members were especially interested in cannabis oils for medicinal use, but less so in smokeable marijuana, which gave her some concerns.
"[Legalized cannabis oils] would help my son very much, but the sad thing is that for people who have Crohn's disease and who have digestive issues -- vaporizing is the best thing for them and they wouldn't have this option," she says.
Payne says that alterations to the bill, which is moderate compared to other states' medical-marijuana laws, will likely happen in order to make the state's more conservative lawmakers feel comfortable voting for it.
"Hopefully, we can pass something that's fairly robust," Payne says. "I think if the members of the legislature were to have a vote on both floors of a decent medical-marijuana proposal and legislators voted their conscience, I think we could pass it this year. The thing is, this is an election year and legislators are not often voting their conscience in election years."
Click on the next page for more and a video of the hearing...