St. Louis Alderman Pushing For Reduced Marijuana Penalties

ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) – Could the penalty for pot be reduced in St. Louis City? One alderman is making a push for it.

The 25th Ward alderman Shane Cohn emailed a copy of the proposed bill to his colleagues on the board. he says that city police officers have more serious crimes to fight.

Right now, state law can land someone in jail for having a small amount of marijuana and the state of Missouri does not recognize medial marijuana prescriptions.  Cohn is reportedly suggesting passing a local ordinance that, instead of handcuffs, those found with only enough of the drug for person use be given a citation similar to a traffic ticket and police should have the flexibility to refer some marijuana cases to the civil instead of criminal court system.

Alderman Cohn is looking for ways to free up court and police time.  Both the St. Louis circuit attorney and the city counselor say they are open to new ways to use city resources.

Felons, drug dealers and users with more than 35 grams of marijuana would be charged under state law.

While this promises to set off fireworks in the drug-legalization debate, it looks like some city leaders are at least open to discussing the idea. In 2010, the Riverfront Times reported that Mayor Francis Slay took an informal poll on his website on a similar proposal, also introduced by Alderman Shane Cohn.

Alderman Cohn says he is no stranger to controversial issues.  He co-sponsored the recently approved measure to shrink the size of the board of aldermen in ten years.

But as of Thursday, people have been positive or interested in his effort to reduce marijuana penalties in St. Louis city.

The board meets in City Hall Friday morning at 10 a.m.

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