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St Louis Repeals Its Marijuana Laws; Legal Statewide Soon?

The bill prohibits police from enforcing state and federal marijuana laws, and smell of Cannabis is not probable cause

KMOV

St Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed a bill repealing city ordinances making marijuana possession illegal, reports Fox 2 Now.

Mayor Jones signed Board Bill 132 this week eliminating penalties for possessing 35 grams or less of Cannabis, reports KMOV. Better yet, the legislation prohibits police from enforcing state and federal laws for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

There’s even more good news. The smell or presence of marijuana can no longer be the only probable cause for a search or arrest. Now remember, stoner, that’s only in St Louis. For now.

“We are seeing a major shift in the way our country sees not just marijuana, but how it connects to public safety, incarceration, and economic opportunity in our communities,” said Mayor Jones.

Unequal Enforcement In St Louis

According to activists, marijuana laws have had a history of disproportionally harming poor communities and African Americans.

Jones said the bill removes an unjust and discriminatory policy. The mayor said nearly 600 people have been arrested in St Louis on marijuana charges in the past three years. Of the aforementioned arrestees, nearly 500 were Black.

“This law will help reduce racial disparities in our policing, make our city safer, and make St. Louis more competitive in hiring for city positions,” Mayor Jones said.

“This is about building public trust,” added St. Louis Alderman Brandon Bosley, one of the bill’s sponsors.  “Enough of this war on individuals who don’t have the means to defend themselves from the federal government.”

Calls For Statewide Legalization

Earlier this year, St Louis County Executive Sam Page signed bipartisan legislation reducing penalties for possessing 35 grams or less. 

There are several statewide efforts underway in Missouri to legalize the adult use of marijuana.  One of those is being led by State Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin).  He is also running for St Louis County Executive.  

“I think we need statewide legalization just so we have uniformity and so nobody across the state faces the possibility of a prison sentence for marijuana possession,” Dogan said.

HJR 83 would regulate and tax Cannabis like alcohol. 

Dogan believes police have bigger priorities than enforcing marijuana possession laws. “Every minute that they have to spend on paperwork for a marijuana possession case, that’s time away from more serious crimes,” he said.  

There is also a petition effort underway to put adult use of marijuana on the ballot in Missouri. Voters approved medical marijuana in Missouri in 2018.  Recreational marijuana is legal in neighboring Illinois.

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