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Missouri voters legalize medical marijuana in limited fashion

Missouri opponents of marijuana cultivation, possession or use to any degree needn't fear that a seminal legal change occurring yesterday will transform the state into a virtual Woodstock.

Here's what happened: State voters passed so-called Amendment 2, ushering in a new legitimacy for pot growing and personal use.

Pot's seal of approval in Missouri comes with a caveat, though, which ensures without question that the state will not follow the pro-pot lead of liberal marijuana states like Colorado, Washington or California.

Indeed, Missouri's new grant is notably - and explicitly - limited. Amendment 2 confers use rights only for medical purposes and only upon individuals who suffer from a few specified debilitating illnesses. Those include cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal conditions. Authorization for use requires a physician's certified statement.

The details concerning how the medicinal pot program will work require some fine-tuning going forward. Although Amendment 2 specifies that approved users will be able to personally grow a small amount of product, state officials have yet to specify what the purchase limits will be or how much pot can be possessed at any given time.

Notably, marijuana use and possession is still flatly illegal under federal law, despite the 32 states that have now passed medical pot laws. Notwithstanding that disparity, a federal statute disallows seizures of pot in states where it is legal, provided the product is being grown for medicinal reasons.

This subject matter will undoubtedly be a top-tier news item in Missouri for some time. We will be sure to pass along material details that emerge regarding the state's new scheme and its operation.

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