Medical marijuana is available in the Joplin area, more than two years after voters passed the bill approving its use in Missouri.

Finally.

Flora Farms, 890 W. Harmony St. in Neosho, opened on New Year’s Eve to a line of patrons wrapped around the building. Cassville Dispensary in Barry County was one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Southwest Missouri this fall. Other dispensaries have said they will open soon in Joplin, including Missouri Made Marijuana at 1502 S. Range Line Road and Shango at 2401 E. 32nd St.

Finally.

If you have cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, migraines, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, inflammatory illnesses or any of a variety of other conditions certified by a physician — usually exams cost $100 or more, not generally covered by insurers — and have paid the $25.58 fee to receive a medical marijuana patient card, you now have places to buy medical marijuana in various forms. Many area patients have already had to pay for a second exam and state card renewal fees to use products to which they have had no access. But those patients can now access limited supplies and varieties of cannabis products, with more and greater varieties expected soon.

Finally.

Those local patients have been understandably frustrated. Chronic pain patients, for example, were looking for an option outside of opioids to manage their symptoms. Opioid abuse and overdose deaths have been at crisis levels, and one of the most compelling arguments for medical marijuana is the demonstrated reduction in opioid use and overdose mortality in states that approve marijuana use. A 2014 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that on average states that approved medical marijuana laws saw a nearly 25% reduction in opioid overdose deaths. That study also found 6% fewer opioid prescriptions among Medicaid patients in those states compared with states without such laws. The delay has been hard to bear and difficult to understand.

That situation is getting better.

Finally.

We are glad that the measure approved by voters in November 2018 has led to cannabis products becoming available to patients who have been waiting — understandably impatiently — for medical marijuana to be available in the Joplin area.

Finally.

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