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St. Louis police union upset over Gardner’s plan to drop some pot cases

ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office says it needs to focus more on violent crimes and that means dropping some marijuana possession cases; a decision that has upset the St. Louis City Police Association.

In an email to staffers Tuesday, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said her office would no longer pursue certain marijuana possession cases under 100 grams.

“We have some drug cases with guns, those are not the cases we are talking about,” Gardner said. “We are talking about solo possession cases only.”

The circuit attorney’s office will review cases individually. If there are no aggravating circumstances surrounding the case or the offender, the case will be dismissed.

But Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis City Police Association, said he’s shocked.

“There's a name for someone who drives around with 100 grams of marijuana in their car – drug dealer!” he said.

Roorda said 100 grams of marijuana has a street value of around $600. He said the police association is not happy with Gardner’s decision.

“Anything over three grams is a felony.,” he said. “The prosecutor has a constitutional job to prosecute felonies and she's choosing not to do her duty.”

Gardner said this decision was made in the interests of public safety. Twenty percent of her docket are low-level marijuana offenses and this shift in focus will allow her office to hit violent crime with a harder punch, considering the limited resources they have.

“We've lost the war on drugs and we have to address the epidemic of drugs as a public health crisis,” she said. “What we've done is seen mass incarceration of lower-level drug offenses has made us less safe.”

Gardner said younger people are getting criminal records for marijuana use before they even start their lives and then continuing on that path.