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SBJ Editor Eric Olson, right, interviews Tim Garrison, who speaks about his role as a presidentially appointed federal attorney.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
SBJ Editor Eric Olson, right, interviews Tim Garrison, who speaks about his role as a presidentially appointed federal attorney.

US attorney: Medical marijuana the ‘camel’s nose’ for recreational push

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As medical marijuana looms in Missouri, the U.S. attorney for the state’s Western District says its introduction will be “the camel’s nose under the tent” in a push for recreational use of the drug. For Tim Garrison, that’s a move in the wrong direction.

Speaking this morning as Springfield Business Journal’s guest for the monthly 12 People You Need to Know live interview series, the presidentially appointed federal attorney pointed to Colorado as an example of how marijuana will impact Missouri.

For example, in Colorado, Garrison said the rate of impaired driving fatalities has doubled since the state legalized marijuana use in 2014. The Colorado Springs Gazette last year reported mixed findings, saying issues arose when comparing drivers who were legally impaired and those who had some marijuana remaining in their bloodstream weeks after using it.

Garrison added the rates for other crimes also are growing in Colorado.

“Prostitution in Denver, I’m told, is up 300%, something like that. Child abuse and neglect, through the roof,” he said. “If you’re an employer and you want to hire a forklift operator in some of these states, good luck finding somebody that can pass a drug test.”

Similar with other states that have passed medical marijuana, Garrison said the same special interest groups soon would move to make recreational use of the drug legal in Missouri. With that comes similar problems, he said.

“Five to 10 years from now, we’re going to ask ourselves why we did this,” he said.

Garrison acknowledged the main difference with medical marijuana is for its use as a treatment for people with chronic pain and diseases, but downplayed potential health benefits.

“It’s a Schedule 1 narcotic,” he said. “I don’t doubt that if you’re in pain and you use marijuana, you feel better, but that doesn’t address the myriad ills that come with it.”

Garrison’s comments come as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recently reported 2,163 applications — including 97 in Springfield — were submitted for medical marijuana dispensary, cultivation or infused-product manufacturing licenses through the end of August. Multiple local entrepreneurs, including former NFL player and CrossFit Springfield co-owner Grant Wistrom, are planning to get in on the ground floor, SBJ previously reported.

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