Our neighbors to the east in the Land of Lincoln have done it and it looks like the medical marijuana train could once again be headed to the Show-Me State.

Our neighbors to the east in the Land of Lincoln have done it and it looks like the medical marijuana train could once again be headed to the Show-Me State.

Year after year, the issue of legalizing marijuana is a topic whispered about in the halls of the state capitol. The topic again took a step forward in Missouri on Thursday, as New Approach Missouri — a group that backs medical marijuana — filed petitions to amend the state’s constitution to allow the use of doctor-prescribed medical marijuana.

It’s the latest example of a movement that is picking up steam. Since 1998, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, with four of those states also decriminalizing recreational marijuana use. The train is picking up steam and it’s seems inevitable that at least medical marijuana could be legal in every state in the country sooner rather than later.

We’re not medical experts, so we can’t give personal testimony to the benefits of medical marijuana for treating things like chronic pain, epilepsy or MS, but we have to acknowledge the validity of the movement to legalize the medical use of pot.

You can’t stop a speeding train with words. That seems to be the case with this topic.

What we can do is urge a rational, systematic approach to the eventual legalization of medical marijuana. Leaders in Missouri, as medical pot becomes a more prominent issues every year, must involve doctors, healthcare providers and law enforcement in crafting rules and regulations for an industry that many in this state will look upon with a skeptical or even mistrustful eye.

The people of the this state must remain open-minded to reasonable possibilities for a medical marijuana industry in the state. Leaders can facilitate openness by conducting frank and deliberate discussions. Education will help people in positions of power make informed, rational decisions about how medical marijuana can work in the state.

There’s no denying marijuana use has a stigma attached to it, whether you believe it’s warranted or not. But the tide has turned in the marijuana debate. A Pew Research Center poll earlier in 2015 indicated that a majority of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana.

That starts in Missouri with medical marijuana.

The petitions filed Thursday by New Approach Missouri is just the first step in what is a complicated path to legalization.

The petitions must be approved by Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander. The group must then collect enough signatures for the issue to be placed on the ballot. Then the voters of Missouri will have their say: let the train into the stations, or try to put up another roadblock.

Either way, the train still chugs along.

 

The views expressed in this opinion represent the majority of the Courier-Post editorial staff.