Medical marijuana and decriminalization legislation pending
Rep. Mike Colona (D-St. Louis), long a champion of medical marijuana patients in Missouri, has reintroduced legislation that would remove criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. House Bill 688 would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions whose physicians recommend marijuana to possess up to one ounce of useable marijuana. Patients could obtain marijuana from state-registered dispensaries, cultivate their own marijuana, or appoint a caregiver to grow it for them.
Support for allowing medical marijuana is strong in the region: Polls have shown 58% support in Iowa and 63% in Illinois. On Election Day, a medical marijuana initiative nearly passed in Arkansas. Legislators won’t know that their constituents support HB 688, though, unless you contact them and share your support for medical marijuana.
In other news, Rep. Rory Ellinger has introduced legislation that would reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana. HB 512, based on an ordinance that MPP helped put in place in Columbia, would punish marijuana possession with a fine of no more than $250, rather than the possibility of jail time. Jail is a place for real criminals, and police have better things to do than arrest someone for using a substance safer than alcohol. Please also urge your legislators to support this common-sense reform.
On April 29, the city of St. Louis took an important step in addressing the government’s failed war on marijuana when Mayor Slay signed the city’s first marijuana decriminalization ordinance. The new ordinance reduces penalties for possession of up to 35 grams (or 1 ¼ ounces) of marijuana, dropping it from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction in most cases. The new law goes into effect June 1, 2013. To see a copy of the bill signed by the mayor, click here.
Marijuana laws in Missouri
Missouri has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. Possession of any amount of marijuana — even as little as a gram — can be punished by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Possession of over 35 grams — about 1.25 ounces — is a felony subject to up to a seven-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. You can read more about the effects of Missouri’s harsh marijuana laws (like the fact that over 91% of marijuana arrests in Missouri are for simple possession) in this 2009 report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana policy reform in Missouri, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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