State Fair Marijuana Display

The Sedalia Police Department has been looking at medical marijuana safety as the city prepares to create its requirements on the subject. 

Missouri citizens voted to make medical marijuana legal in November with an amendment to the state constitution. While the state has its own rules and regulations on medical marijuana facilities, cities are allowed to deviate from state requirements. The Sedalia Planning and Zoning Committee is looking at keeping the state’s 1,000 feet regulation on the manufacturers, but taking it to 300 feet for the dispensaries. 

Sedalia Police Chief Matthew Wirt said the city is looking at keeping the dispensaries in certain commercial areas largely due to safety. 

“We've talked about it, putting it in areas that are well lit, and high traffic areas where crime is less likely to occur…” he explained. “It goes back to it is a desired drug and anytime you have something that is desired and is of high value, the safety concerns would be theft, robbery, burglary, those types of things.”

The dispensaries will only be allowed to operate with and accept cash, adding to the safety concerns.  

“Marijuana, even the medical, is still illegal under federal law, so banks cannot accept money from a dispensary or anything that is selling because under federal law it's still illegal,” Wirt said. 

Wirt also said if a facility that grows medical marijuana comes to Sedalia, the city is looking at putting it in an industrial area. It is not definitive whether or not the city will get either facility due to state regulations on the number of businesses allowed in one area. 

Anyone wanting to build a facility will have to go through normal city regulations. The state will be doing plan reviews as well as limiting who is approved from the applications to start a facility. 

A concern the police department has is about people consuming medical marijuana and then operating a vehicle under the influence. 

“The thing that has to be realized is that smoking marijuana is like consuming alcohol. There is an intoxicating effect, so even though it’s medical marijuana that doesn’t make it OK to operate a car,” Wirt said. “It would not be smart, or even legal, for someone to smoke it and drive their car, be smoking it while driving their car, even a passenger smoking it while they’re driving a car...”

“So we’re going to have to deal with those things also. I don't really know that on the medical marijuana that that’s going to be huge or not, but other jurisdictions have talked about it and their experiences with it,” he continued. “Unfortunately there’s always those people in this world that will make bad decisions.” 

Wirt explained that operating a vehicle under the influence of medical marijuana is like when people drive while under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. 

“Someone can take too many of their prescription medication and if it’s certain types of medication, opioids are a prime example, and they go out and operate a car, they’re still driving while intoxicated so it would be the same thing with this,” he said.

Wirt said the police department will try to get the message out when the implementation comes closer and they hope people make good decisions. 

“People will have to be cautious of it. The same as if you consume alcohol, it is the same if you consume marijuana. You should not be operating a car,” he said. “I think that’s one of the things that we will, when the time gets closer, do as kind of as a public message. That please, don’t do this and get behind the wheel of a car. Remember whether you have a medical marijuana card, whether it's legal or not, you’re still not supposed to ingest marijuana and drive.” 

City Reporter

Emily Walton is the city reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering local government and various city departments.

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