SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Should Missouri become the 25th state to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis (marijuana) for medical purposes? That's the question voters may decide this fall.
"It stops seizures that anti-convulsants can't touch. It is a miracle drug for multiple sclerosis as a potent pain medicine and analgesic and works on the brain," said Dr. Gil Mobley, owner of Dr. Gil's Immediate Care in Springfield.
Mobley believes it's wrong for the government to deny patients cannabis, a substance he believes could potentially provide relief from certain ailments.
The advocacy group, New Approach Missouri, has collected enough signatures to place the decision in the hands of voters this coming November.
During the petition drive, Mobley's office served as a site collecting signatures.
The signatures still have to be certified by the Secretary of State's office. The measure needed 167,000 names to qualify; about 250,000 were collected. That means, even if 83,000 were found to be invalid, there would still be enough to put it on the ballot.
"Putting it into perspective, cannabis has gotten a bad rap and, because of that, it is classified right next to heroin and LSD on controlled substances. It is not like that," Mobley said.
This doctor isn't advocating a free-for-all. Instead, he thinks cannabis should only be uses as a last resort when all other treatments fail.
"Use it and grow it in ways that are not harmful," he said. "It has some qualities that patients actually need. But, cannabis isn't for all patients. In fact, only a slim percentage of the patients will qualify."
Back in January, when this particular round of discussion was beginning, KY3 News chatted with Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay about the issue. Like most local law enforcement leaders, DeLay says he is against legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
"I am not speaking for every sheriff. But, as a whole, we were against it. So, we wanted to start by taking that stand and whatever comes up, we will do whatever we need to do to continue to fight for our stand.," said DeLay.
Most law enforcers express concern about the potential for crime, and addiction, and other problems for society. Others are afraid legalizing medical marijuana would be a slippery slope toward okaying it for recreational purposes.
With strong opinions on both sides, the debate is likely to heat up in the coming months. Advocates of medicinal marijuana believe have the support to get the measure passed.
"Yes, patients in Missouri are ready for this to pass and it will pass," said Mobley.