By Austin Manley / Special to The Delta

Medical marijuana is now accessible to student-athletes with medical marijuana prescriptions under Missouri Valley College’s policy on controlled substances. 

The policy allows students to exercise their right that is protected under Article XIV of the Missouri constitution which legalizes and safeguards the medicinal usage of marijuana in the state of Missouri.

Medical marijuana has recently become available in the state of Missouri.  Changes to Missouri law allow the production, distribution, purchase and use of medical marijuana by qualified patients. Qualifying medical conditions include cancer patients, those who struggle with epilepsy as well as those who suffer from certain psychiatric disorders.

The changing in the law presents new avenues and the hopeful possibility of recovery in the form of medical marijuana for qualifying patients.  Although, some students who are qualified patients, especially student athletes, may wonder if they are truly protected to be able to access such medication considering conflicting federal laws, what may be the policy of the NAIA, the league that Missouri Valley College affiliates itself with and what may be the policy of Missouri Valley College itself regarding medical marijuana. 

Student-athletes that have a medical marijuana prescription or that are considering discussing with their doctor if medical marijuana is right for them may find solace in the fact that the NAIA currently does not list marijuana as a banned substance.

“The organization actually never has had a policy against marijuana” said Vice President of Athletics Tom Fifer.

This means that student athletes would not be in conflict with NAIA policy to access their prescription medication in the form of medical marijuana.

However, students may also be concerned over how the college’s policies are affected by the changing laws. Specifically whether or not if the change in law means that student-athletes with marijuana prescriptions are able to access their legally prescribed medication the same way a student may access any other prescription drug that could fall under the banned substance list such as Adderall due to it containing methamphetamines. 

“There are certain substances that we don’t allow, mostly performance enhancing drugs, but also list marijuana as well as several other drugs with random drug testing as a way to check for substance abuse and it acts as a deterrent more than anything else to help the student athlete especially if it’s a dangerous drug, to inform them of the safety risks and put them on the right path.” Fifer said.

Senior Athletics Director Mike Machholz agreed in saying: “Yeah, it’s really just a deterrent. It’s hard to be championship athletes if you’re diving somewhere off into the weeds.”

With the new policy, marijuana will now be treated as other medical drugs.

“We would handle that the same way we do with students who come in with a prescription of something that might be perceived as banned such as Adderall due to methamphetamines.” Fifer said. “If the issue came up with someone with a prescription for medical marijuana we would treat that the same way as long as they had all the proper documentation such as the prescription card and the description by the doctor what condition that the medication is used for and what could the effects be. So if you’re asking if a student could be excused from the drug test for marijuana if they had a drug prescription card with all the documentation the answer would be yes, just like some of the other prescribed drugs.”

The statement confirms the schools policy which protects and permits the usage of medicinal marijuana by students and student-athletes who wish to access their legally prescribed medication in the form of medical marijuana.

An important piece of information is that no provision under Article XIV permits the public consumption of marijuana or driving while under the influence of marijuana. 

Students who have migrated from states that have legalized medical marijuana and have a prescription in their home state may wonder if their prescription card from their state would allow them to access medical marijuana in Missouri, the short answer is yes.  Section 5(1) of Article XIV provides that a person who produces an “equivalent identification card or authorization issued by another state or political subdivision of another state” will not be subject to arrest or other sanctions under Missouri law for possession of marijuana in quantities less than the limits for qualified Missouri patients. 

For those wondering how they might access medicinal marijuana should also be informed that the only people who can provide a physician certification for medical marijuana are either a licensed physician (MD) or osteopath (DO).  Qualifying patients may now visit a doctor to obtain certification for their qualifying condition provided that the physician certification must be no more than thirty (30) days old at the time you apply for a patient identification card or renewal card.

Those wanting more resources on medical marijuana in Missouri and Article XIV of the Missouri constitution can visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for more information.