The Clever police chief penned an editorial for one of the state’s top medical journals. He examined the topic of medical marijuana through the lens of an experienced law enforcement officer.
Chief Jeff Lofton’s editorial appears on five pages in the July/August 2019 edition of “Missouri Medicine,” a peer-reviewed journal published by the Missouri State Medical Association.
“With the passage of Amendment 2, the ripple effect of the marijuana bills waiting for discussion and vote, it appears Jefferson City, indeed all the Show-Me State, is looking ‘green’ for the foreseeable future,” Lofton wrote in his introduction.
Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) received 2,163 online applications by the deadline of Aug. 19 from those hoping to obtain licenses from DHSS for cultivation, dispensary, manufacturing and testing laboratory facilities for the state’s medical marijuana program.
The application system received more than 1,200 applications in the final three days, including more than 800 applications in the final 24 hours. Thus far, DHSS has received more than $13 million in application fees from persons who want to be in the business of medical cannabis.
Lofton notes that it is important to differentiate medical marijuana and recreational medical marijuana from the use of CBD oil or hemp products. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become a popular product with many touted health benefits. CBD is produced without much government regulation. It is extracted from the buds and flowers of cannabis plants, and does not reportedly contain tetrahyrocannabinol (THC), the active component in marijuana which produces the “high” feeling its users seek.
“In other states law enforcement officers report far more problems with medical marijuana, even more problems with recreational marijuana and few problems with CBD and hemp,” Lofton wrote.
Lofton writes that he anticipates some negative residual affects as the result of Missouri’s legalization of medical marijuana cultivation and use. Some remain to be seen and can be theorized, but some negative impacts, Lofton wrote, will fall into what he calls a “you can bet your house,” category of definite.
He expects an increase in car accidents with drivers found to be under the influence of marijuana. He also expects an increase in marijuana use leading some persons to develop substance abuse issues and/or to commit property crimes like theft or burglary in order to obtain money to fund their drug habits.
“Gaining access to marijuana could possibly lead to an even more complex condition with substance abuse and mental health disorders,” Lofton wrote.
Lofton recounted the story of a man he has had recurring contact with over the past 10 years. Lofton first met him when he was a 17-year-old boy.
Lofton recounted how the man, “progressed from simply using personal amounts of marijuana, to selling small amounts to friends, to selling larger amounts to individuals who contacted him through his friends, to using methamphetamine, to then selling and using methamphetamine on a regular basis.”
Proponents of medical marijuana sometimes deny the old adage that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” often leading users to try harder street drugs or to abuse prescription drugs. Lofton writes that he believes regular marijuana use can and does lead to the abuse of more addictive and dangerous drugs.
“As a police officer, I’ve never been one to see a law enforcement problem, fight it, then all of a sudden sit back and just accept that so many people are involved in an illegal activity that we might as well legalize a portion of it so we can at least make some money off of them,” Lofton wrote.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services used Colorado as a model to project that 2-3 percent of Missourians will be utilizing a medical marijuana card to obtain the drug, which equates to about 150,000 people—almost the estimated population of Springfield.
Lofton is also concerned with the potential risk of an increase in organized crime tied to the budding medical marijuana industry. He explains that while dispensary sales will be tracked, it may be difficult to prevent patients from traveling from one dispensary to another and purchasing more than their allotted four ounces of marijuana at a time.
Lofton also explains that cash is the No. 1 currency used to pay for medical marijuana in other states, making it difficult to differentiate legal business transactions from any potentially-illegal or illicit activity. A deputy police chief in Colorado said that the majority of Colorado’s warehousing operations for medical marijuana are not legitimate, and that they are often tied to Mexican drug cartels.
Just as many dispensary owners and operators and marijuana growers will profit legally from Missouri’s new law, criminals from Missouri, other states, and possibly other countries will profit illegally, Lofton argues. That illegal profit will be tied to costs in crime, hospitalizations and transients being housed in jails, he said.
“It is unrealistic to think that Missouri will enact medical marijuana without the myriad of law enforcement, educational, medical, judicial, social and motor vehicle problems occurring in other states that passed similar legislation,” Lofton said.
On the Web
Read Clever Police Chief Jeff Lofton’s editorial on medical marijuana in the July/August 2019 edition of “Missouri Medicine”