ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Missouri is approaching the beginning of its medical marijuana program.
So far, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has released seven out of the 11 sections of rules. The rules are currently in draft form and must be finalized June 4.
One month later, the state will begin accepting applications for patients.
“Missouri is very specific. They want a true patient-physician interaction with documentation that says this is why the patient should get medical marijuana,” Dr. Gurpreet Padda, M.D., who specializes in pain management told News 4. “Missouri is more lax than some states, especially Illinois, with regards to why a patient should get medical marijuana. Missouri includes things like pain by itself that some of the other states don’t include.”
Dr. Padda said his “biggest fear” is the unintentional use of medical marijuana.
“It’s the unintentional use of marijuana—typically by a child or pet—that can be a major problem. And we’ve seen that with every single medication,” he said. “You should treat medical marijuana as if it was a pain pill.”
While Dr. Padda said “overall, marijuana is a very safe medication,” he also stressed that “medical marijuana is not without risk.”
He said the state could see an uptick in emergency room visits because people don’t realize the strength of today’s marijuana.
“People that used marijuana in the 70s, if they try it now, they’re going to have a whole different experience,” he said. “The problem it causes is that the new novice user may not know how fast the marijuana may work, and they may not realize how long it may last and they may not realize how much of a significant affect it has on their brain.”
He said there is also a small percentage of patients that, when exposed to THC, can have an acute psychotic break.
“So there’s this whole thing of too much drug, and if you’re predisposed genetically, you may have a major issue," he added. “And you may not even discover it, until the first time you use this. Those are the issues that I kind of worry about.”
Despite the risks, Dr. Padda believes there are benefits.
“That’s not to say that this is all a negative thing. It just is what it is and we have to be aware of it.”