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Can Missouri's Medical Marijuana Program be Two Things at Once?

In the 1930s, scientists learned that quantum particles can exist in several states at the same time and then collapse down to a single state when they interact with other particles. Unable to understand this phenomenon, researchers drifted from science into philosophy, and declared that quantum particles only collapse to a single state when viewed by a conscious observer. In 1935, an Austrian physicist named Erwin Schrödinger devised a thought experiment to illustrate the problem with this interpretation.

In Schrödinger’s imaginary experiment, a cat is placed in a sealed box (where it cannot be seen by any conscious observer) with a tiny bit of radioactive substance. When the radioactive substance decays, it causes a poison to be released that kills the cat. Because the radioactive substance follows the laws of quantum mechanics, it starts in a combined state of both “decaying” and “not decaying”, and since there is no conscious observer present, the whole system remains a combination of the two possibilities.

The cat, according to quantum theory, ends up both dead and alive at the same time.

In 2019 we are in a comparable situation with Missouri’s new medical marijuana program. Just as we know the cat must either be alive or dead, embarking on this massive social experiment will either be a net gain or a net loss. It can’t be both.

There’s evidence that this program reduces some harms associated with marijuana use, while enabling those suffering from debilitating diseases to seek relief.

  • The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has been able to outline rules that inhibit dispensaries and other industry entities from marketing to children or incentivizing recreational use.
  • Sellers must have plans to address diversion, recognize the signs of cannabis dependence, and refer to local substance misuse organizations. NCADA has worked with many local health departments and municipal governments – discussing zoning laws and how to minimize the harm of normalizing marijuana use.
  • Legislation has been introduced in the general assembly to prohibit certain forms of edibles and to ensure substantial penalties for diversion of medical marijuana products.
  • Many medical providers are seeking education on what health benefits may or may not truly exist with marijuana and marijuana-derived products.

On the other hand, there’s evidence that some are trying to take advantage of the system.

  • Some clinics are assuring people that almost anyone can receive a medical marijuana card.
  • Providers and companies that are more interested in getting rich than helping those with legitimate medical conditions are arriving from other states.
  • There are currently no controls on how providers can advertise. Social media ads, billboards, and even signs stapled to power poles promote the ease of access. Some of these providers are reminiscent of the opioid pill-mill clinics that dotted the regional landscape as recently as a year or two ago.

Without direct objective observation, we can’t know if medical marijuana is a good or a bad thing for Missouri. So far:

  • Doctors have begun certifying patients.
  • Patients can now grow their own marijuana.
  • Regulations have been issued, and applications for cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensaries have been submitted, but dispensaries are not yet opening.

The results will most likely be somewhere in the middle, with some restrictions and regulations on business practices, but some unethical entities taking advantage of loopholes and targeting young people and those prone to substance use disorders, all in the name of turning a quick profit.

NCADA will continue to monitor events, and advocate for public health solutions that protect our youth and minimize the harms associated with legally available marijuana.

For more information, please contact Brandon Costerison at bcosterison@ncada-stl.org or (314) 962-3456.