By Jim Dryden

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A convention promoting Missouri’s soon-to-be budding cannabis industry is looking to take advantage of its legalization. The event is scheduled for Kansas City in March and it aims to attract and educate those interested in recreational marijuana. On the flipside, not everyone is in favor of marijuana’s legalization. Those who aren’t are engaging in education of their own in the form of discussing its addiction.

Laura Bierut, MD, is a Washington University in St. Louis endowed psychiatry professor who studies addiction and she’s expressing concern that marijuana becoming recreationally legal can be harmful to the Show-Me State.

“I think that we would all agree that certain types of policies with marijuana are not very productive,” opines Bierut. “I think the criminalization of marijuana use is not a productive approach to reducing the substance use, but when we move all the way into legalization, we are bringing business involved in the industry of marijuana. When I think of the different substances, the alcohol and tobacco, two legal substances, kill more Americans every year than the other drug use. I have to believe that with the legalization of marijuana, we are going to get business involved. We are going to get more stores. We are going to get more use in the public.”

She encourages the community to begin a health campaign to educate schools, parents, and the general public about marijuana, in addition to dispelling common myths.

“We’ve done a great job reducing cigarette smoking amongst youth,” adds Bierut. “That rate of smoking has gone down dramatically, and we could see it around us over the past two decades. We’ve also done a very good job reducing alcohol use in amongst high school kids, but now as we’re legalizing marijuana, we need to take the lessons that we learned with smoking and alcohol use and now apply it to marijuana.”

Those who were in support of marijuana’s legalization saw the voter approval as a way for marijuana convictions to be expunged, in addition to increased tax revenue to the State of Missouri.

Marijuana legalization begins to take effect on December 8.