On October 17th, 2020 in Ellisville and Manchester, Missouri, the first of many medical marijuana dispensaries opened for business to the public. These dispensaries were made possible thanks to a 65% in-favor vote on Amendment 2 to legalize the use of cannabis for medical applications in 2018.
Several more dispensaries opened to the public through the end of 2020, with 192 planned to operate throughout the state.
While this may sound like good news to many marijuana supporters, there are serious unintended side-effects to marijuana legalization.
People break rules. It’s just in their nature. While cannabis is authorized for use to treat pain and chronic conditions when certified by a physician, there will be people who use it outside of its approved purpose.
We’ve seen in other states that have legalized cannabis, sharp increases in DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) charges. Driving while high is a serious problem that many recreational users don’t acknowledge. Driving while high impairs your focus, as well as motor and visual focus. If you are charged with driving while under the influence of pot, you can lose your license for 30 days, face imprisonment, and be required to complete substance abuse training.
Another area where there are major unintended consequences is in employment.
Drivers, like couriers, food delivery drivers, forklift operators, or cab drivers risk their employment by using medical marijuana. These positions are often zero tolerance if you test positive on a drug test. These types of jobs do not mix with marijuana use. Even if you have a medical marijuana card, you can lose your job if you test positive in a zero-tolerance environment.
Other jobs present a conundrum to area employers. They must decide if they want to take a hardline stance on drug testing or not. You cannot discriminate by forgiving drug tests part of the time. The ADA also requires that you make allowances for medical marijuana needs if at all possible. This leads to a confusing, potentially litigious situation for Missouri businesses.
There are a lot of grey areas and question marks still being revealed as the medical cannabis market opens in Missouri and nationwide. As the user base grows and the younger generations accept it with open arms, we can’t say right now what the future will bring.
The best thing you can do, whether you are for or against the end of cannabis prohibition, is to stay informed on the laws as they develop. Even if you are a non-user—if you are a business owner, physician, or even simply a friend, family member, or roommate of one who grows or partakes—it could potentially affect you.