Missouri medical marijuana enrollment growing like a weed

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More than 21,000 people in Missouri have been approved to use medical marijuana since enrollment began at the end of June, and the number is growing by about 1,000 people per week.

That means the number of approved patients is on pace to exceed an estimate by the MU Department of Economics, which predicted 22,534 people would be approved by the end of 2021. 

Missouri NORML coordinator Dan Viets said his group always predicted the numbers of patients enrolling would be higher than the MU study projected. He attributed the discrepancy to Missouri's medical marijuana law, which "grants doctors the discretion to recommend cannabis for a wide variety of ailments and injuries."

The law outlines specific qualifying conditions but also allows doctors to certify patients who have other symptoms they believe marijuana could ease. 

Missouri NORML said in a news release that almost one-third of people approved to use medical marijuana have also been approved to grow their own. Under Article XIV, patients and designated caregivers can grow the plant. 

"It is very important that our law allows patients to cultivate for themselves," Viets said. "Many patients have a very limited income. Health insurance does not yet cover medical marijuana. The option to cultivate by and for patients provides a cost-effective alternative to purchasing cannabis through licensed retail dispensaries."

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