MO: Columbia City Council Considers Decriminalizing Cannabis CultivationBy Dan Viets, J.D. | Show Me Cannabis November 12, 2013
COLUMBIA, MO – On the evening of Monday, November 4, Ben Berigan, president of the MU NORML Chapter, and I spoke to the Columbia City Council and asked the Council to pass a new law which would provide for the cultivation of up to 6 cannabis plants to be prosecuted only under Columbia City Ordinances.
We recommended to the Council that the same penalties and other provisions which were passed in 2004 apply to the cultivation of up to a half dozen plants for personal use only.
I pointed out to the Council that the state of Colorado nearly one year ago legalized cultivation of up to six plants. There has been no report of any problem arising from that legalization.
While the proposal in Columbia would not legalize such cultivation, it would remove criminal penalties, eliminate the possibility of arrest and jail sentences and eliminate the possibility of a criminal conviction record. Further, adding this provision to the marijuana ordinances would preserve the eligibility of people prosecuted to receive federal aid to education.
A conviction under state law for cultivation of even a single marijuana seed carries a range of punishment of five to 15 years in prison. Further, a conviction in State Court results in a loss of eligibility for federal education aid. By requiring such cases to be sent only to the Columbia Municipal Courts, the new law would eliminate the possibility of a criminal conviction for such activity.
On Tuesday of this week, three cities in Michigan, including the state capital, Lansing, all passed a measure which substantially reduced the penalties under city ordinance for marijuana possession. The largest city in the state of Maine, Portland, passed a measure eliminating penalties under city ordinance. In each of the Michigan cities and in Portland, these measures passed with the support of more than 60% of those voting. Unfortunately, the ordinances still allow police to send such cases to the State Prosecuting Attorney for prosecution under state law. Columbia’s city ordinances on marijuana are unique in the nation in that they prohibit the police from sending such cases to the state for criminal prosecution.
The fact that these measures passed overwhelmingly in elections which normally draw only a very small percentage of registered voters is a strong indication that the American public is ready to embrace marijuana law reform.Columbia City Council , Columbia MO , MU NORML , Show Me Cannabis , Show Me Cannabis Regulation
Dan Viets is a criminal defense lawyer on the Board of Directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and has served as the Missouri State Coordinator for NORML for many years. He is a former president of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has served as chairman for the Mid-Missouri ACLU, an organization in which he has been very active over the years. Dan has received numerous awards and recognition for his work as a civil libertarian and humanitarian, and hosts a weekly radio program on KOPN in Columbia.