A Boone County Republican fundraiser kicked off the 2018 campaign season Thursday and, thanks to a sponsorship from Heartland Priorities, got some local lawmakers talking about medical marijuana.
The event, which took place at the Holiday Inn Executive Center, was hosted by Boone County Republican Central Committee. Heartland Priorities, a federal PAC headed by Eapen Thampy, a long-time advocate of medical marijuana legalization.
Thampy, however, was not in attendance. Neither was Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, who was slated to speak at the fundraiser.
With glasses in their hands, roughly 40 members and supporters of the Boone County Republican party mingled around the room snacking on hor d'oeuvres.
Reps. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, and Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, expressed their support for expanding pain-relief options to cancer patients and those suffering from terminal illnesses.
“I’ve met a lot of people that had cancers and other illnesses that don’t do well with the medications that they presently use for treatments. Investing in an option that a medical doctor thinks is right is worth looking into,” Basye said.
But, he said, "it needs to be regulated.”
In February, Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron, introduced a bill, HB 1554, in the General Assembly that would legalize marijuana for terminally-ill patients. A previous iteration of the bill that would have legalized access to medical marijuana for people suffering from “epilepsy or an irreversible debilitating disease or conditions” was voted out of the committee last year.
Neely chairs the Special Committee to Improve the Care and Well-being of Young People, which counts Reisch and Rep. Sarah Walsh, R-Ashland, who attended the fundraiser, as members.
Basye acknowledged that many of his colleagues in Jefferson City do not share his views on legalizing medical marijuana.
“It seems like it’s gaining a little bit of momentum but I know a lot of my colleagues are not crazy about it,” he said.
Reisch reiterated that while she supports legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, she is against expanding its use for recreation.
Walsh, on the other hand, said is she is on the fence about legalizing medical marijuana due to it being illegal on the federal level and because some research shows it can have deleterious effects on children.
“If the federal government basically changes the classification, the scheduling (of marijuana) so that there can be more research, that’s what a lot of the medical organizations recommend,” Walsh said.
However, she said that expanding other drugs, such as synthetic alternatives to cannabis that assuage pain and that have been approved by the FDA, may be a better way to go.
Supervising editor is Gary Garrison.