Columbia, MO: Proposed municipal language to decriminalize the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for personal use, and limit the criminal prosecution of medicinal marijuana patients will go before the Columbia City Council for a vote later this month. The Columbia Alliance for Patients and Education, in conjunction with the University of Missouri chapter of NORML, drafted the petition and collected the necessary signatures to place it before the City Council.
If the Council rejects the initiative, it will automatically be placed before the city’s voters on the April 8 ballot.
Proponents of the initiative argue that its passage would benefit students, who under federal law risk losing their student aid if they have a pot conviction, and encourage local police and prosecutors to apply marijuana laws more consistently. Under the proposal, all minor marijuana infractions would be directed to municipal – not state – court. First time possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Several municipalities in other states – most notably Mendocino County, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan – have previously enacted marijuana decriminalization ordinances.