Times are changiní with the legalization of pot

Saturday, July 6, 2019

I recently sat in a Sikeston City Council meeting and heard something I never thought I would hear a decade ago: city officials discussing medical marijuana dispensaries.

In the November election, Missouri voters overwhelming approved Amendment 2, allowing the use and sale of medical marijuana. Amendment 2 allows qualifying patients to apply for a medical marijuana ID card to consume marijuana. The application must include a statement from a physician that the patient suffers from a health problem that is defined in Amendment 2. Those who are allowed to consume marijuana must do it in private.

Now city governments all over the state are trying to decide how far away the medical marijuana dispensaries must be located from schools, churches and daycares. Cape just voted to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to be as close as 500 feet from schools, churches and daycares.

Bob Dylanís song, ďTimes They Are A Changin,íĒ echoed in my head as I watched some council members squirm a bit in their chairs as they were briefed about how to zone the dispensaries in Sikeston. Because like it or not, the council knows, just like most of us, that allowing medical marijuana is just a precursor to allowing recreational marijuana use and the regulations they are about to make arenít for medical marijuana, but for recreation marijuana when it comes.

No matter what my feelings are, the wave of allowing recreational marijuana use is engulfing state after state, and we will be swept up sooner or later. Currently, 11 states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana with Illinois most recently legalizing the possession and use on June 25.

That means that anyone over the age of 21 in Missouri can cross a bridge and purchase marijuana from a licensed seller in Illinois and use it in the state beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. Missouri residents canít legally purchase it and drive it across the state line because marijuana is still illegal in this state and is still illegal at the federal level.

But donít think there wonít be a line of cars on Jan. 1 crossing the bridge into Illinois, heading to dispensaries in Carbondale, Marion or Anna or some other small town to get the drug. And to think they wonít bring it across state lines will be incredibly naive.

The jury is still out on the impact legalizing marijuana has on states. Some say it is a boon to economy and lowers crime while some stories I have read lately from states like Colorado show that may not be the case. Iím sure Missouri lawmakers will be keeping a close eye on Illinois to see how the legalization works there.

But hereís the thing: How long do you think it will take for state lawmakers to look over into Illinois and see that state making money off the sale of marijuana and realize they could be keeping a lot of that tax money at home? I figure it wonít take long, and the wheels to legalizing it recreationally in Missouri will begin.

With that in mind, there are going to be some small business opportunities locally in selling legal weed that could possibly have some serious profits. Unfortunately, the only weed I know well is crab grass, and you canít exactly smoke that or put it in a brownie. But I think we will all be getting an education in the drug in the coming months and years. Because ďTimes They Are A Changin.íĒ

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