By Leilani Haywood
Tribune Reporter

Lee’s Summit City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its March 15, 2018 meeting expressing opposition of the City Council to all forms of legalization of marijuana. The resolution included two draft ordinances prohibiting the sale of all forms of marijuana in the city or in the alternative and an ordinance amending the uniform development ordinance as well as authorizing the city manager and the city attorney to take actions as may be necessary in the event of legalization of any type in the state of Missouri.

The resolution was passed after a presentation by Dr. Ed Kraemer and Dr. Steve Salanski, the co-chairpersons of the Health Education Advisory Board (HEAB). In 2016 the City Council passed a resolution against the legalization of marijuana for recreational or medical purposes outside of the FDA process. City Council also asked the HEAB to advise the council on how to respond to attempts by the state of Missouri to legalize marijuana.

Councilwoman Phyllis Edson asked about the procedure of getting a resolution with two ordinances. City Attorney Brian Head said, “In this instance we could miss the mark if we try to legislate now. It’s possible our entire ordinance could be struck. We can bring forward ordinances as soon as we know what’s certified to the ballot. The other portion that concerns me is I’m not comfortable creating a zoning category for an activity that’s illegal.” He added that the ordinances were a great foundation for responses in case statewide legalization of marijuana was put on the ballot.

Dr. Salanski pointed out the effects of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Colorado legalized medical use of marijuana in 2013 and then recreational use of marijuana in 2016. “In 2014 there were 450,000 ER visits in the first year due to marijuana from intoxication and the side effects,” said Dr. Salanski. “Thirteen percent of those visits involved youth ages 12 to 17.”

After legalization of recreational marijuana, ER visits increased by 35 percent. “After legalized recreational marijuana the average rate of regular rate of teen using marijuana is 30 percent higher,” said Dr. Kraemer. “To summarize potential statewide legalization of marijuana presents multiple public health and safety concerns in Lee’s Summit and would have a negative impact on youth in our community which is a major concern.”

Emma Wise, a junior at Lee’s Summit High School and member of the Lee’s Summit School Advisory Council agreed. “We did a survey in Lee’s Summit on marijuana use and 1 to 4 students report using marijuana,” she said. “One in five teens say they have ridden in a vehicle with someone who was under the influence of marijuana. The first time they use marijuana is at 13. As youth, we look to adults to provide consistent messaging. Think of us to protect our youth.”