420 Magazine Background

Columbia City Council Faces Final Vote On Bill To Reduce Pot-Growing Penalties

The General

New Member
Missouri - The Columbia City Council will take a final vote Monday night on an ordinance to extend the city's relatively lax marijuana laws to growing small amounts of pot. If passed, people who are caught growing as many as six marijuana plants by Columbia police would receive a maximum penalty of a $250 fine. The law would also direct police to take offenders to municipal court before filing state charges. Enforcement of marijuana laws would be considered among the lowest of the city's law enforcement priorities, the ordinance says.

"What we're trying to do here is provide a lesser range of punishments for people who are growing just a few plants and there is no evidence of anything but personal use," said Dan Viets, a local attorney and a perennial supporter who drafted the proposed ordinance with sponsorship from Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe. A decade ago, Viets was behind an effort to put measures on the November 2004 ballot allowing seriously ill patients to use marijuana with permission from their physicians and to subject possession of as much as 35 grams to a maximum $250 fine.

Columbia voters approved the ordinances with 69 percent and 61 percent of votes, respectively. Growing marijuana is a felony under state law, regardless of the amount, and offenders run the risk of a minimum term of five years and a maximum penalty of life in prison if the offense takes place within 2,000 feet of a school or a school bus. According to a council report, city staff has advised the council that the ordinance "is not consistent" with state and federal law, but the report says that staff is not making a recommendation to the council as to whether it should pass the legislation. "If they pass it, we'll enforce it," said City Counselor Nancy Thompson. "We'll enforce the ordinance and defend it." But, she said, city staff wanted to take care not to send a "mixed message" to the council and Columbia residents that the bill opens up a marijuana cultivation free-for-all in the city. A city ordinance does not trump state or federal law, she said, and Columbia residents could still be subject to state or federal penalties if they are caught growing pot.

"That's a challenge the police department is going to have to face," Thompson said. First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt said he has received "hundreds" of emails expressing support for the ordinance and will likely vote to pass it. He hasn't polled other council members on the issue but said he suspects that the measure will have the four votes it needs to pass. "It sort of fits with a philosophical movement of working with people instead of sending people to jail," Schmidt said. At the council's March 17 regular meeting, Ryan Worley, coordinator with the Youth Community Coalition, raised concerns about the proposed changes during public comments, saying that increased availability and a lowered perception of harm from marijuana could lead to increased use by children. "I urge that we put children and their well-being at the center of the conversation," Worley said.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Columbiatribune.com
Author: Andrew Denny
Contact: Contact Us - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Site
Website: Columbia City Council faces final vote on bill to reduce pot-growing penalties - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Local News


New Member
This gives me great pride in Missouri and the sense of the Colombia City Hall to be on, what I believe to be, the correct side of this issue. I'm really praying the rest of Missouri can catch on to this kind of thinking.
Top Bottom