Editorial Summary: Missouri | Daily Times Center
Kansas City Star. January 27, 2022.
Editorial: Black Missouri entrepreneurs are barred from the medical marijuana business
Black entrepreneurs have been so left out of Missouri’s booming medical marijuana business that in the Kansas City area, no dispensaries are majority black-owned.
Even Marne Madison, the former president of the Minorities For Medical Marijuana group in our state, gave up and moved to Oklahoma City, where she plans to open a dispensary in April. This is after investing around $80,000 unsuccessfully trying to obtain a dispensary license in Missouri.
Madison can’t even say it was a learning experience, because she still doesn’t know the reasons the state rejected her candidacy or approved others. And if the lesson for aspiring minority businessmen is “Move to Oklahoma,” Missouri is lost.
Oklahoma currently has no limit on the number of licenses the state can issue to medical marijuana businesses, while Missouri has capped dispensary licenses at 192.
After being rejected at her home, “I drove five hours, spent $2,500 and got approved. It’s ridiculous to ask someone for six figures when it’s not necessary.
Exorbitant application fees clearly limit minority participation in the cultivation or sale of medical marijuana. African Americans make up just under 2% of Missouri dispensary owners, well below the national average of just under 5%.
Missouri does not consider race and gender when applying for the right to legally grow and sell pot for medical purposes. And only three of Missouri’s 192 dispensaries belong to
Black people, a group that has borne the brunt of America’s endless “war on drugs”. Blacks are still nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana — even though both groups use the drug at similar rates, according to a 2020 analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union.
For most major government contracts – ranging from IT services to road construction – the participation of minorities and women is required. But those parameters were omitted when voters approved Missouri’s marijuana program, according to MoCannTrade, a Missouri medical marijuana advocacy group.
At least 15 states have diversity provisions when issuing marijuana dispensary licenses, including bordering states Illinois and Arkansas, and we should too.
Legal Missouri’s 2022 campaign to place a recreational or adult use initiative on the ballot is underway. Approximately 170,000 valid signatures are needed from registered Missouri voters. The law would allow anyone 21 or older to purchase marijuana for any reason. The initiative, which could pass in November, would automatically expunge the criminal record of any candidate convicted of a nonviolent marijuana-related offense.
It would also require a random lottery to select new licensees, which would be much fairer and less opaque than our current system.
St. Louis Post-Expedition. January 30, 2022.
Editorial: How to make a tough job harder in hospitals and nursing homes
It takes a special level of dedication to take an already catastrophic pandemic and find ways to make it even worse. Missouri state lawmakers have risen to the challenge, going beyond the call of duty with four bills that appear specifically designed to increase coronavirus risks to healthcare workers and push many of them to quit their jobs out of frustration.
The bills aim to address people’s legitimate concerns when coronavirus precautions prevent them from visiting loved ones in isolation in hospitals or nursing homes. At the start of the pandemic, patients were often left to die alone, with family members watching from an outside window, due to visitation restrictions.
These restrictions, however, were put in place because overstretched hospital and nursing home staff were grappling with a deadly and fast-spreading outbreak. Isolation of highly infectious patients was considered the safest precaution.
But as the Post-Dispatch’s Kurt Erickson reports, some lawmakers aren’t happy leaving such decisions to medical professionals. One Republican lawmaker, Representative Brian Seitz of Branson, indicates a desire to put his personal religious views into law.
“Isolation kills. Human beings were created by God to interact with each other,” Seitz said. “Only God can determine life or death.”
Hospitals and nursing homes naturally protect their right to set the rules regarding visits. If a patient is contagious, an outside visitor may be exposed and then come out to spread the infection to others. And if a visitor brings the infection inside, the dangers increase for staff members and patients already at risk.
Furthermore, medical personnel are beyond breaking point after enduring the first wave of coronavirus patients, only to be hit by an even bigger wave with the current omicron variant. Doctors and nurses are exhausted and overwhelmed trying to keep people alive. The last thing they need are laws requiring them to add visitors to their time request list. As everyone knows who has been inside a hospital, visitors have a strong tendency to demand attention and make requests as if staff members are their servants.
Seitz wants to demand that hospitals allow visits at all times and prohibit medical staff from preventing them. Rep. Rusty Black, R-Chillicothe, would require hospitals to let at least one visitor in and prohibit a hospital from requiring coronavirus vaccinations as a prerequisite for patients receiving treatment or having visitors.
Another bill would set a 24-hour limit on isolating any patient from visits by designated family members or friends. Yet another would prevent long-term care facilities from adopting policies in response to an outbreak of a contagious disease.
It seems only a matter of time before one of these science-averse lawmakers proposes a ban on mask requirements in hospitals. Unfortunately, common sense seems to have taken a vacation in Jefferson City.
St.Joseph News Press. January 27, 2022.
Editorial: Don’t Ignore the Vaping Problem
At the end of 2019, the health story that captured the public’s attention was not the coronavirus.
ERs had begun reporting mysterious cases of lung disease, with more than half of patients under the age of 25. The common link was the use of electronic cigarettes, often with vitamin E acetate as an additive to THC.
In February 2020, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,807 hospitalizations and 68 deaths associated with vaping. For a time, this story caused a backlash against e-cigarettes, but then the public moved on.
Yet vaping, especially among young people, has not gone away. Not by far. A CDC survey found that nearly 20% of high school students and 5% of college students admitted to using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Despite the fun packaging and fruity flavors, this is still risky behavior. Up to 99% of e-cigarettes sold in the United States contain nicotine, a stimulant that is highly addictive and can damage teenage brains.
The aerosol is not harmless water vapour. Ultrafine particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs. E-cigarettes use flavorings like diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease. Vapers also inhale heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead. Post-marketing changes can be particularly dangerous and have been linked to some of the pulmonary cases in the ER.
Looking for a more immediate impact? Dental experts say regular vaping reduces saliva in the mouth, leading to chronic bad breath. Good luck finding a prom date.
For adults, it is easy to look at young people and marvel at their vitality and ability to embrace and master new technologies and concepts. But it’s also sobering how often they make the same stupid mistakes we made in our youth. Many teenagers still consider themselves bulletproof.
It is an adult’s responsibility to come between adolescents and behaviors with long-term negative consequences. Not in a judgmental way, dad knows best, but as a practical intervention until they’re grown up and free to do all the stupid things they want.
St. Joseph’s School District has installed vaping monitors in high schools and at the Webster Learning Center. Now the Board of Education is considering bids to install the same equipment in colleges, where the first encounter with temptations and peer pressure often occurs.
These devices won’t stop teens from vaping on their own. They’re probably only as good as the human intervention that comes with them.
But given the prevalence of vaping and the unknown long-term consequences, the district should pursue these devices and any other reasonable strategies to nip teen vaping in the electronic bud.