Advisory commission weighs medicinal marijuana and opioids

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COLUMBIA - As the city continues to weigh medical marijuana, the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission met today to discuss possible ramifications of a city ordinance.

The Commission spent the majority of its monthly sit-down discussing a city resolution that would endorse the Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative.

The Columbia City Council is currently considering the initiative, which would essentially create a taxpayer funded marijuana lobby. It unanimously tabled the resolution Dec. 18.

Public Health and Human Services staff have reviewed studies related to medical marijuana legalization and potential reduction in opioid overdoses. Some studies indicate that legalized use of medical marijuana may reduce opioid overdoses.

Another study they reviewed found that states with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower average opioid overdose mortality rate compared to states without medical cannabis laws.

"Opioid overdose deaths are something that really matter to the commission," Commissioner Steven Chaffin said. "If that's going to be one of the reasons we would be supportive of that resolution, it's important to verify that the data is in agreement about that."

Some commissioners were supportive of the resolution.

“I just don’t see why people can’t try to find ways to make themselves feel better when they’re sick,” Commissioner Jennifer Roelands said.

The commission elected to not take action until its next meeting at the earliest, wanting to learn more about the issue and see how the city acts.

“It seems odd that the city would weigh in on a state issues," Commissioner Joseph Priesmeyer said. "I think that’s a state thing, let them handle that.”

Other topics discussed at the meeting were alcohol consumption, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and Police use of Naloxone, or Narcan. 

The next commission meeting will be Feb. 14.