Missouri Decriminalization Initiative To Go Before Local Voters

Columbia, MO:  Columbia City Council members punted on a proposal to decriminalize the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for personal use, and limit the criminal prosecution of medicinal marijuana patients.  As a result, local voters will now decide the issue, which will appear on the April 8 citywide ballot.  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 Council – which had the option of approving the amendment outright, or placing it as an initiative on the upcoming ballot.

Proponents of the initiative maintain that its passage would benefit students, who under federal law risk losing their student aid if they have a pot conviction.  Under the proposal, all minor marijuana infractions would be directed to municipal – not state – court, and would be punishable by a fine only.  Patients qualified by their physician to use marijuana medicinally would face no penalty.

Similar ordinances have been enacted in other cities and counties, including Mendocino County, California; Oakland, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

First time possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by up to one year in jail.

For more information, please contact either Sarah Duff of The Columbia Alliance for Patients and Education at (573) 424-3551 or Dan Viets, Esq. of Missouri NORML at (573) 443-6866.