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Opinion: We Must Stop Companies from Preying on Missouri Kids with Intoxicating THC Products Sold in Gas Stations and Online

Earlier this month ten Sumner High School students consumed an intoxicating cannabinoid THC product they legally purchased at a nearby gas station. Thankfully all ten kids, including four that had to be taken to the hospital for medical reasons, have since recovered.

The saddest part of this entire situation is unlike half the states, Missouri has so far failed to ban or even regulate the sale and use of these intoxicating products.

As a law enforcement officer and prior commander of the bureau of drug enforcement who is sworn to protect the health and safety of Missourians, I appreciate that the state heavily regulates all other intoxicating products, including tobacco, liquor, beer and even now marijuana.

But in Missouri, pre-teens can and do purchase these products and get the same exact high as heavily regulated and age-gated marijuana. It should come as no surprise then that the out-of-state companies that produce and sell these products at gas stations and online purposefully market these to children by looking like candies. Even worse, we don’t know what’s in them because no testing or labeling is required, despite many of these using product grown and manufactured overseas, including China.

Thankfully a coalition of Missouri Republicans and Democrats are taking action. Unlike other states, this proposed legislation wouldn’t ban these products, but rather regulate them much like we do with the sale of marijuana. Missouri voters legalized marijuana in 2022, but only after voters were satisfied that stringent regulations would be in place.

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-0 to unanimously approve SB 984, the Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act. As early as next week, the House Public Safety Committee could vote on HB 1781. Both of these pieces of legislation would require the intoxicating products to be tested, labeled, and not marketed or sold to anyone under 21. Instead, these THC products would be regulated by the Missouri Department of Health, which currently regulates both medical and recreational marijuana in Missouri.

What the bills don’t do is regulate CBD or industrial hemp fiber, which are products that Missouri farmers are actually growing and most importantly, aren’t intoxicating and won’t get Missouri kids high.

Law enforcement has a tough enough job protecting the public’s health and safety without having Missouri kids getting high on products that are untested, unsafe, unregulated, but legal. It’s never easy to put the genie back in the bottle. And we know that every month that goes by where Missouri doesn’t join the majority of states that have already banned or regulated these intoxicants, it makes the jobs of our teachers, parents, and my fellow law enforcement officers that much more difficult! Let’s put public safety first by regulating these products just like we do all other intoxicants before we have more tragedies on our hands.

This is Lt. Colonel Law’s opinion and not an official statement of the St. Louis County Police Department.