Protecting children from dangerous drugs

State Sen. Mike Bernskoetter
Missouri’s 6th District

It is no secret that a drug problem exists in our state. From the often-discussed opioid epidemic to illegal drug trafficking, our state has been hit hard by substance abuse. In 2018, the Missouri Department of Mental Health estimates that approximately 388,000 Missourians struggled with a substance use disorder.

To do our part to fight substance abuse, the Missouri Senate approved Senate Bill 6. This legislation reforms state law regarding controlled substances. This legislation updates the control substance list and allows the Department of Health and Senior Services to make emergency rules regarding the federal controlled substance list until the Missouri General Assembly is able to address the issue.

By giving the Department this ability, it can respond more quickly to new emerging drugs hitting the street. Senate Bill 6 also removes medical marijuana from the controlled substance list in accordance with the medical marijuana constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2018.

While this legislation updates Missouri law to comply with the will of the voters, it also ensures that children are protected from the increased accessibility of marijuana going forward. A key provision of SB 6 prohibits the sale of edible marijuana-infused products designed or marketed to appeal to individuals under 18-years-old.

By including this language, we are making it clear that products that could entice minors to use marijuana are not welcome in this state. Additionally, this bill requires edible marijuana-infused products to be stamped with a diamond symbol containing the letters “THC” to avoid further confusion once it has been removed from the packaging.

As marijuana products become more common, we need to ensure that children are not tempted to use them. In states where marijuana is legal, the drug can come in a variety of forms, including gummies and candies. Children looking for a snack and without knowing any better can easily mistake one of these products as normal food. If they were to eat one of these marijuana gummies, the effects could be serious. There was a case in Ohio just this month where nine children were taken to the hospital after consuming gummy bears infused with marijuana.

By putting packaging restrictions as well as a stamp on edible products in place, I believe we can eliminate confusion and keep controlled substances out of the hands of our children. I firmly believe SB 6 acts as a poison control measure that will help protect Missourians and prevent incidents like the one in Ohio from occurring in our state.