Area residents with health conditions who might benefit from medical marijuana need to take note that both of the area's largest health providers said they won't be providing any recommendations for the drug. Both Freeman Health System and Mercy Hospital issued statements late this week stating their position and reasons for their stance.

Their statements are as follows:

Mercy Hospital in Joplin: "Because Mercy places the highest priority on patient safety and quality care, we are not recommending medical marijuana treatment for our patients. Mercy believes there is insufficient medical and scientific research on the benefits and risks of cannabis products as part of medical treatment. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't determined the safety or efficacy of cannabis."

Freeman Health System in Joplin: "Freeman Health System recognizes that Missouri law allows marijuana to be used by individuals with certain qualifying medical conditions. However, the use and possession of marijuana is still prohibited by federal law, and Freeman must adhere to federal regulations. Freeman continues to stand by the Food and Drug Administration's approval process as the most effective way to ensure the safety, efficacy and purity of medications provided to patients across Missouri. Because Freeman places the highest value on patient safety and exceptional care, Freeman physicians will not be certifying patients for medical marijuana, nor will they recommend it."

Missouri requires anyone who wishes to cultivate, extract or sell marijuana acquire a license before that can take place. Deadline for approval of any licenses is December 31, 2019.

State residents who seek medical marijuana must be certified by a state licensed physician through a referral rather than a prescription. Missouri residents must apply for an identification card through the Department of Health and Senior Services. Pre-filed, approved applications will be approved starting January 5 of next year. There is a $25 fee to apply.

Despite voter approval of Amendment 2, which took affect on December 5, 2018, possession, sales, transfer and transportation of marijuana remains illegal through the United States. Some states have legalized the use of medical or recreational law but federal law remains unchanged. In the area, neither Freeman Health Systems or Mercy Hospital will be involved in any aspect of medical marijuana.

For more information about medical marijuana in Missouri, visit the Department of Health and Human Services online at https://health.mo.gov/safety/medicalmarijuana.