Tag Archives: Missouri

Life In Prison for Marijuana?

As more and more Americans support ending marijuana prohibition and an increasing number of states consider marijuana policy reform legislation, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are still a lot of people in prison for marijuana-related violations. As shocking as it may seem, some are slated to spend the rest of their lives behind bars for something that millions of Americans do every day and that people in Colorado and Washington do legally.

jeff-mizanskey-life-in-prison-marijuana_9379224_87
Jeff Mizanskey

One such person is Jeff Mizanskey. He is currently serving life without parole after his third non-violent, marijuana-only offense due to Missouri mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Please sign this Change.org petition asking Gov. Jay Nixon to grant clemency to Mr. Mizanskey.

If you would like to know more about prisoners serving insanely long sentences for marijuana, please visit Life For Pot and share these stories with anyone who will listen. No on deserves to be arrested for a substance that is safer than alcohol, but putting people in cages indefinitely for it is inexcusable.

Missouri Bill to Tax and Regulate Marijuana Introduced

Chris Kelly
Rep. Chris Kelly

On Wednesday, Rep. Chris Kelly introduced HB 1659, which would end the prohibition of marijuana in Missouri. The bill, similar to the law currently in effect in Colorado, would allow adults to possess, use, and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana with no penalty. It would also set up a taxed and regulated market for marijuana cultivation and sale.

Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition. Poll after poll after poll has shown that Americans are ready for a new, more sensible approach. By regulating adult use, the state can replace the underground market, and let law enforcement focus on serious crime. It’s time for a better approach in the Show Me State. If you are a Missouri residentplease support Rep. Kelly’s efforts and ask your senator and representative to end the destruction caused by marijuana prohibition in Missouri.

Meanwhile, another bill has also been introduced and represents a step in the right direction. Sen. Jolie Justus introduced SB 491, which would establish a new class of low-level offense for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Individuals would not be forced to spend time in jail, and fines would be limited from their current levels.

 

St. Louis Aldermen Vote to Reduce Marijuana Penalties

The Board of Aldermen, the law-making body of St. Louis, Missouri, voted 22 to 3 in favor of reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in the city to that of a traffic ticket.

St. Louis Alderman Shane Cohn
Alderman Shane Cohn

Introduced earlier this year by Alderman Shane Cohn, the law gives police officers the option to redistribute some marijuana cases to the municipal court system, essentially making a criminal infraction a municipal offense.

Due to the absence of local marijuana laws in St. Louis, police charge offenders under the severe state laws.

“[Missouri] has some of the most draconian laws in the nation,” John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The ordinance reduces the penalty to a $100 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

The policy goes into effect June 1.

Missouri Police Sergeant Sues Department for Blocking Marijuana Reform Activism

According to the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, Sgt. Gary Wiegert, a 32-year veteran of the St. Louis police force (SLMPD) and former Show-Me Cannabis lobbyist, is suing the department for violating his first amendment rights.

gary wiegert
Gary Wiegert

The phrase “lobbyist activities in Jefferson City” did not raise any eyebrows last month when Sgt. Wiegert filled out the necessary forms to work a second job. However, after word of Sgt. Wiegert’s off-duty activities spread, the SLMPD rescinded its permission.

The police veteran was told that he would need to obtain a business license if he wished to continue lobbying for the marijuana reform organization. Interestingly enough, the department took no issue with Sgt. Wiegert’s politicking three years ago when he began working for the St. Louis Tea Party.

Sgt. Wiegert’s attorney, Albert Watkins, alleges that his client’s superiors further infringed on his free speech rights when they issued a verbal “gag order” last Friday, requesting that he refrain from making any political statements until they could meet to discuss his lobbying. Continue reading

End Of Democracy Watch: Springfield, Missouri

When a dedicated group of activists hoping to reform Springfield, Missouri’s punitive marijuana laws turned in thousands of signatures they had collected fair and square, they thought the next step would be for voters in Springfield to decide whether or not to support their proposal. In other words, they thought the initiative process works like common sense says it should. They were wrong. What happened next is an example of disenfranchisement so egregious it belongs in a work of fiction.

The Springfield City Council, as is their legal right, went ahead and passed the ordinance, meaning it would not be placed on the November ballot. Their stated reason for this was that they didn’t want the city to have to front the cost of printing the issue on general election ballots. In other words, they were just trying to save the city some money, they said. Normally, at this point, the story would be over. But this is Springfield.

Immediately after the council passed the ordinance, they voted to “table” it, so they could amend the law to their liking. Some wanted to raise the $150 fine, which they thought was too low. Others wanted to remove a provision establishing a “citizen oversight commission.” It gets worse. After 150 people showed up to offer their testimony—the overwhelming majority in support of the original ordinance—four of the nine councilmembers moved forward with a plan to repeal the entire ordinance, stripping citizens of their fundamental right to vote on the proposal. Here’s a quote from one of those councilmembers, and I promise I’m not making this up: “I’m going to support passing, and then gutting, the entire ordinance,” said Councilman Jeff Seifried. “This is the fiscally responsible way to do business.”

Last night those oligarchs councilmembers followed through on their intentions and repealed the ordinance. The petitioners from Show Me Cannabis Regulation who gathered the signatures are assessing their options now. They have 30 days to gather more signatures to repeal the council’s vote (which, of course, could then be overturned by the council). More likely, they’ll sue to challenge the council’s action as violating the city charter’s initiative language. Either way, one thing is clear: the Springfield, Missouri City Council does not care about your voting rights.