St. Louis has joined Columbia in reducing the penalty for possessing personal amounts of marijuana, setting the stage, hopefully, for decriminalization measures passing in Springfield (finally), Kansas City and statewide. Show-Me Cannabis Director John Payne was instrumental in lobbying the St. Louis Board of Alderman to pass this measure, that had to go thru a few revisions to form together a winning coalition. Missouri law allows for a $1,000 fine and a year in jail for possession of under 35 grams, while the new St. Louis law will cap the fine at $50 and jail time to 90 days.
The law, which was introduced earlier this year by Alderman Shane Cohn, gives police officers the option to redistribute some marijuana cases to the municipal court system, essentially making a criminal infraction a municipal offense. Violators would typically be given a summons to appear in municipal court instead of handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. Police currently charge marijuana offenders under more harsh state laws because no local law is on the books.
“I think this is a good step for the city of St. Louis,” Cohn said. “It doesn’t legalize marijuana, but it gives fairness.”
John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, a pro-legalization group, said he was pleased with the vote and hopes it leads to legalization in Missouri.
The law isn’t our ultimate goal, of course, but it is a step in the right direction. Missouri has made some great strides on this issue in recent years and this St. Louis measure keeps the momentum going. We look forward to continue working with Missouri activists to eventually bring full legalization to Middle America.