Saint Louis City Alderman Shane Cohn announced this week that he plans to introduce a bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis today (Friday, 1/11). Mr. Cohn's proposal would allow the city to ticket people for possessing marijuana instead of charging them under state law. If convicted for possession of marijuana under state law, an individual would receive a criminal record that will impede his ability to receive federal student aid, find employment, or even rent an apartment.
Even though nothing has been officially filed yet and (as of the time of this writing) the details of the bill are still being finalized, the media has already jumped on this issue with this story in the Post-Dispatch and two television spots on the local Fox affiliate.
The bill is something of a rough draft, so the details are likely to be hammered out in committee. Accordingly, we are encouraging Mr. Cohn to propose amendments that will create something similar to the decriminalization and medical marijuana provisions that were enacted in Columbia in 2004.
Although we were pleasantly surprised by this announcement, we have been planning a campaign to encourage Saint Louis' board of alderman to take up this issue. In fact, I recently wrote this policy brief as part of the initiation of that campaign. If you live in the city of Saint Louis, please read the brief and contact your alderman and ask him to support Mr. Cohn's proposal and to support modeling the legislation after what has been in place in Columbia for nearly a decade. Tell them that we should not be using scarce police resources to arrest people for cannabis possession, and that people who possess cannabis should not be treated as criminals! If you need to find your alderman's name and contact information, use this directory on the city's website.
Regardless of where you live, please consider investing with Show-Me Cannabis today. Without your support, we cannot keep advancing cannabis law reform across the state of Missouri!