Public forum to discuss pawnbrokers, alcohol, and drugs

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia's Substance Abuse Advisory Commission (SAAC) met Wednesday and voted to move forward with a public forum on proposed amendments to the city's policy pertaining to pawnbrokers and other dealers of secondhand property. 

The commission unanimously approved a motion to bring the amendments to the public for discussion, and set a meeting date for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7.

SAAC chairwoman Molly Borgmeyer said the city council tasked the commission to look into the issue. SAAC will act as the host for the public forum in September. 

"Earlier in the spring we were asked to look into it, so we've been discussing it this summer and have gone through a few revisions, and I think we're comfortable with moving forward to public comment," Borgmeyer said. 

Borgmeyer said the forum will provide additional guidance for helping the commission figure out where stolen merchandise is going.

"The Columbia Police Department has looked at a lot of this, and seen that a lot of the money related to stolen merchandise that they find is related to drugs and alcohol. There are also studies out there that are showing that this is a main source of income for people who are trying to get drugs and alcohol, and therefore it is victimizing the people whose property is stolen," Borgmeyer said. 

After the public forum, the commission will move forward with additional revisions as needed. 

In addition to the amended pawnbroker ordinances, SAAC also discussed initiatives concerning the city's alcohol policy and opioids. 

Borgmeyer said the University of Missouri's alcohol action team organizes an annual meeting with bar owners in the community to discuss the safety aspects involved in running a bar.

"The meeting is an informational rather than controversial piece. It’s something to bring people together to know that we’re all fighting for the same thing. We want their business to really be out there and be successful, but at the same time be safe for everybody in our community," she said.

Borgmeyer said the commission is at the beginning stages of researching what it would like to propose for alcohol policy ordinances. The commission is researching the impact of limiting drink specials.

"We're looking at the possibility of, when you limit the amount of drink specials, or the pricing related to alcohol, if it decreases or increases the amount of consumption," Borgmeyer said.

Discussion on opioids is also in its beginning stages. 

"We have not done anything on that just yet. We are obviously looking first off at pushing our officers and our boots in the streets to have Narcan available, so that way if they come into contact with somebody that is having an overdose they can revive that individual," Borgmeyer said.

Narcan™, or naloxone, is an opiate antidote.

Borgmeyer added, "There’s a lot of positive studies that we’ve seen out in the community and other communities where the more people you have that have access to Narcan, the better they’re able to respond to issues." 

She added the commission's next meeting will continue to cover pawnbrokers, alcohol policy, and opioids.