Missouri police chief pens letter amid confusion over new medical marijuana law

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RAYTOWN, Mo. -- Medical marijuana is on the books as law in Missouri. But as the program rolls out, a few hiccups are already happening for patients.

"There are going to be kinks. There are going to be folks who aren't up-to-date on the laws as they should be," said Darby Cook, founder of Missouri Cannabis Clinic.

Before the first dispensaries ever open, questions are surfacing on patients' rights. And as cannabis cards become available, frustrations also include misunderstandings with law enforcement.

Johnny Rocco is Ryan Farmer's alter ego. He's a maintenance man by day and a pro wrestler by night. Both are roles that have left him with a lot of aches and pains.

"I deal with neck pain and back pain. My C1, my T4, my sacrum are all twisted up," Farmer said.

The pain makes it hard for him to function and especially tough to sleep. After going through a whole host of unsuccessful treatments, he's now applied for a medical cannabis card, hoping it'll finally offer some relief.

"It was a big relief to have an alternative to having a bunch of pills," Farmer said.

Darby Cook is a big believer in the healing powers of medical marijuana, so she opened the Missouri Medical Cannabis clinic in Raytown, helping patients get certified to use it under Missouri's new medical marijuana law.

While the process is pretty seamless, patients around the state have had some issues.

"Make sure you're aware of your rights because not every law enforcement officer is receiving adequate training about this new topic," Cook said.

The head of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association just issued a letter in response to a recent incident in Rolla.

An officer had an exchange with a woman smoking marijuana, which she insisted was perfectly legal because she's a medical cannabis card patient. The officer said she couldn't have it because no dispensaries are open yet in the Show-Me State.

"Medical marijuana is here to stay, and it's not going away anytime soon," Cook said. "So the sooner people adjust to that and learn the new laws, the better off we'll all be."

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said even before dispensaries are open for business, card-carrying patients can legally have up to four ounces of marijuana.

"Officers should not ask where the marijuana was obtained or request a receipt," the president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association wrote.

"I just hope to see the stigma be broken for medical cannabis and for more people to be able to access it," Cook said.

The patient in Rolla wasn't able to give officers her card. To help avoid issues, Cook's clinic in Raytown urges all its patients to always have their cannabis card handy. Right now, the state is only issuing digital cards, so you can keep a copy on your phone or print it out if you can.

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