The midterm elections last month saw a large number of Missouri voters turn out to vote in favor of Amendment 2, the ballot measure which was intended to legalize medical marijuana. The passing of that amendment means that Missourians have an extra option to deal with various health conditions, such as PTSD, cancer and Parkinson’s disease. However, those receiving welfare benefits from the state aren’t sure whether the use of cannabis will make them ineligible for the benefits which they rely on for their sustenance.
The Department of Social Services in Missouri revealed that it has not yet reached a position regarding the status of beneficiaries who opt to use medical marijuana. However, the department offered no timeline regarding how soon the policy review would be complete.
Currently, the law requires that applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families be screened for drug use. Those who don’t show up for the test, and those who test positive for various drugs, including marijuana, immediately become ineligible to receive the benefits for three years.
Nonetheless, not everyone is tested, although everyone is asked about drug use. The welfare officers have the discretion to decide who is selected to be tested and who enrolls for the program without undergoing the drugs test.
As things stand, welfare benefits recipients may have to play it safe and abstain from medical marijuana even if they badly need it. This option is a tough one, but if one is faced with a choice on whether to risk being declared ineligible for three years after testing positive for cannabis or waiting until the Department of Social Services decides the way forward, then the abstinence choice becomes the less harmful one.
The dilemma on whether to consume medical cannabis or not isn’t just weighing on the mind of welfare recipients alone. Employees in various government departments, such as those working in the correctional facilities, also don’t know where they stand regarding the recently passed law legalizing medical marijuana.
The law bars the consumption of marijuana in all correctional facilities. However, it is not clear whether someone working in a correctional facility (warders, for example) can lose his or her job when drugs tests return a positive result for marijuana. Once more, the officials in charge of the Department of Correctional Services aren’t ready to commit one way or the other regarding this grey area.
One is tempted to think that it is still early days since medical marijuana was legalized in the state, so different stakeholders are still digesting the implications, and how to react to the new reality. Meanwhile, welfare recipients and workers in government departments remain uncertain about what the future holds for them regarding medical marijuana. Everyone watching the developments in Missouri, including Therma Bright, Inc. (TSX.V: THRM) (OTC: THRBF) and TransCanna is hoping that the necessary clarification is provided sooner rather than later so that those who desperately need medical cannabis can access it without fear of being victimized.
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