Student works with group to legalize pot for medicinal use


A collection of confiscated marijuana at the St. Charles Police Department.
Photo by Matt Hampton

A Lindenwood student is reaching out to campus organizations in an effort to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri.

Kyle William Kisner is working with New Approach Missouri, a medical marijuana advocacy group, to collect signatures for its latest ballot measure petition. Lately he has been working to collect signatures around the St. Charles area but is hoping to bring the petition to campus.

Kisner began working with New Approach during its failed attempt to reach the required number of signatures to qualify for a legalization proposition on the November 2016 ballot. The number of signatures needed is based on a certain percentage of people who voted in the previous gubernatorial election, he said.

Approximately 160,000 signatures are needed to qualify for the ballot by May 2018.

The College Democrats organization at Lindenwood is helping Kisner with the petition. He also contacted the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, and Kinser is waiting to see if they will help.

Maria Sanchez, a freshman at Lindenwood, is heading the Democrats’ effort to promote the initiative and said they would like to have a table on campus to promote it.

Sanchez is from California, where medical marijuana is legal, and said her cousin who has autism has benefited from it. She also has a friend here in Missouri with an autistic brother.

California is one of 20 states to legalize medicinal marijuana in the U.S. Eight additional states, plus Washington D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

“I’m trying to push that because, personally, it hit home, and I want her brother to have that same access,” Sanchez said.

Cassie Crabb, a forensic scientist at the St. Charles County Police Department crime lab who is studying cannabis for her master’s in forensic science with the University of Florida, said that she supports the legalization of medical cannabis, as long as “it’s regulated and controlled.”

Crabb said cannabis can be used to prevent seizures and vomiting and treat diseases including epilepsy, AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“There’s been research to show that it helps with neurocognitive development, brain ischemia and diseases that break down the brain muscles and the brain tissue, so there’s definitely some great medical benefits of it,” she said.

In addition to expanding medication access options to veterans and others, the measure would institute a 4 percent tax on marijuana, which is estimated would raise $18 million annually for the Missouri Veterans’ Commission.

Kisner himself was formerly addicted to opioids. He supports medical cannabis as an alternative to prescription painkillers, citing “an average 25 percent reduction in opioid-related overdoses in states that have medical cannabis.”