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Medical Marijuana - What Parents Need to Know

Marijuana in Missouri

Missouri's medical marijuana program is underway. Dispensary sales will begin this spring, and those with licenses to grow at home are already producing and consuming marijuana legally.

Community Impact

There are a number of community impacts to monitor after the implementation of a state medical marijuana program. For example, states with a medical program see an increase in marijuana-related hospital visits among both adults and youth. There may be an increase in marijuana-related traffic accidents. And black market marijuana may increase, which can be linked to increased use among teens.

Marijuana as Medicine

Marijuana is not an approved medicine by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far, there is not enough research to show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it's meant to treat.

Cesamet, Epidiolex, and Marinol are prescription cannabinoids that are FDA-approved for research-indicated use such as nausea and vomiting, spasticity due to MS, cancer pain, and neuropathic pain.

A full list of conditions for approved use under Missouri's program can be found by clicking here.​

THC in Medical Marijuana

Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. In the early '90s, the average THC content in marijuana was 3.7%. In 2018, it was 15.8%. The average marijuana extract (also known as wax and dabs) contains over 50% THC with some samples exceeding 80%.

Higher THC levels are linked to increases in emergency room visits and may mean a greater risk of developing a use disorder.

Marijuana Use Disorder

Research suggests up to 30% of those who use marijuana may develop some degree of marijuana disorder. People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.

Effects on Youth

When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions long-term.

Medical Marijuana Safety in the Home

One of the consequences of medical marijuana legalization is the unintentional ingestion of marijuana products by young children. This often happens when parents are not looking, and marijuana products have been stored unsafely or left within reach of a child. The result can be a visit to the emergency department. If you have marijuana or marijuana products in your home, take precautions to ensure the safety of your children and young visitors to your home:

  • Keep marijuana up and away.
  • Pick a place your children cannot reach.
  • Put marijuana away every time you use it.
  • Never leave it out on a kitchen counter or at a bedside, even if you anticipate using it again in a few hours.
  • Consider purchasing a medication lockbox.
  • Children, even young children, can easily access marijuana products in their original packaging
  • Talk to your children about marijuana
  • As with all medicines and marijuana products, teach your children about medicine safety
  • Ask other parents if they have marijuana products in their homes before sending your child to play at a neighbor's or classmate's house. If the answer is yes, make sure that all products are stored up and away and out of children's sight
  • Be prepared in case of an emergency.
  • Call the Poison Help Center at 800-222-1222 right away if you think your child might have consumed marijuana products.



Fertig, Natalie, et al. "How Legal Marijuana Is Helping the Black Market." POLITICO Magazine, 21 July 2019,

"The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research." The National Academies, 2017,

"Marijuana." NIDA for Teens, 1 Dec. 2019,

National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Letter From the Director." NIDA, 2019,

"Potency Monitoring Program Reports." Marijuana Research, 2019,​