The Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition hosted a medical marijuana education event Nov. 12 at Lafayette High School.
The Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition works to prevent substance use among youth. As a school district, Rockwood's position on legal medical marijuana facilities is that local and state agencies should give thoughtful consideration to the impact that the location of such facilities will have on our students.
"Locating those facilities near our schools and playgrounds can lead to the normalization of marijuana," said coalition coordinator Lili Schliesser. "That can minimize perceptions of harm and impact the decision to use marijuana illegally."
Marijuana for medicinal use was approved by Missouri voters last fall. Many people remain unsure about the components of this drug and about what research is showing about its potential benefits and risks. The Rockwood education event addressed questions about the regulation of medical marijuana distribution and enforcement of state and federal policies.
Event speakers included officials with Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, NCADA (formerly National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse) and MO-HOPE, an organization whose goal is to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
"Our concerns include youth access and kids getting their hands on marijuana and marijuana products, especially bringing edibles to schools," said Brandon Costerison, policy coordinator for NCADA. "We see that happening in other states all the time. We also are concerned about illegitimate recommendations or certifications by providers and that some people will use this not for legitimate medical means but just as a way to get access to recreational marijuana."
Rockwood Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles said district administrators certainly want residents to have access to appropriate health care resources. But in Rockwood, the first priority is to maintain a quality learning environment in and around our schools.
"Rockwood officials do not want to stand in the way of people accessing legal health care," said Miles. "But our responsibility is for the care and well-being of the children in our communities. Normalizing marijuana usage does not help achieve that. We support the state of Missouri's assertion that such facilities should not be located within 1,000 feet of a school."
Lyndall Fraker is Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director of the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation.
"We've been told by law enforcement and others that Missouri has about a $500 million black market marijuana industry," said Fraker. "This program is estimated to be worth $100-$200 million once it's going full-steam. So there's still an awful lot of illegal activity going on."