Mo. Lawmakers, Supporters Push for Legal Marijuana in 2014

3 years 6 months 3 weeks ago Monday, March 03 2014 Mar 3, 2014 Monday, March 03, 2014 3:44:00 PM CST March 03, 2014 in News
By: Taylor Barth, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - After failed attempts to legalize marijuana in Missouri last year, lawmakers and supporters are wasting no time in the new year. 

On January 13, Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, filed two house bills related to marijuana. House Bill 1324 would legalize the medical use of marijuana in Missouri, while House Bill 1325 aims to decriminalize penalties for possession of pot. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, also filed House Bill 1659 in late January, which would tax and regulate marijuana in Missouri. 

The organization Show-Me Cannabis has the same mission as Kelly. In January, the Secretary of State approved 13 initiative petition proposals by the group. Each proposal differed in the number of plants a person would be allowed to cultivate and if marijuana-related crimes could be cleared from a person's record. The group announced it would not be moving forward with the November 2014 initiative. Show-Me Cannabis Chairman Dan Viets said the group's polling shows only 45 percent of voters support the initiatives for 2014. He said he expects that number to increase by 2016. 

"We have no interest whatsoever in promoting greater use of marijuana, but we do want adults to have the choice, and we do not want people who are otherwise responsible, good citizens to be treated as if they were criminals merely because they use marijuana, perhaps instead of alcohol," said chairman of Show-Me Cannabis Dan Viets. 

Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, opposes marijuana legalization and said the drug's implications aren't being considered. 

"I think to inject another drug, besides alcohol, into our society certainly needs a lot of reflection because when you make something legal for adults, then it becomes readily available for everyone," Cox said. 

While Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, other states aren't trailing far behind. There are 22 states in the U.S. that allow medical marijuana.

Missouri has some of the toughest penalties for possession in the country. A person can serve up to a year in prison or pay a $1,000 fine if caught with 35 grams or less. Columbia's law, however, is an exception to a rule. In 2004 voters passed an ordinance that lessens the punishment for possession. Instead of jail time and hefty fines, officers treat possession similar to traffic violations and issue summonses. 

Cox said Missouri's current laws are effective, but Viets said going after marijuana users is a waste of time and money. 

"Instead we could use that money much more constructively to build hospitals, schools, to build roads and bridges and we would have a whole new revenue system," Viets said.

It's a highly controversial issue, and both sides have strong opinions.

"I think most of the people who oppose reform are simply misinformed, that they don't understand the fact that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol," Viets said. 

"We know that just like alcohol, there will be a lot of adolescent children and young children who get it either accidentally or get it intentionally, and we will have to live and deal with the effects in the future," Cox said. 

Viets has been working to legalize marijuana for 40 years. Given the past failures of house bills, he said legalization efforts might have more success in the hands of voters. The General Assembly heard a bill regarding decriminalization late last year but did not approve it. 

"Last year the speaker failed to do his job. He did not assign those bills to a committee," Viets said. "In one case he assigned one in the very last week of the session when it was obviously too late for the bill to have a chance to pass."

Cox has been a member of the General Assembly for seven years. He said the overall attitude regarding marijuana is more passive, but it is still unlikely the General Assembly would legalize it. 

"It's virtually the same members of the General Assembly as it was last year, so I don't think the result is likely to be any different," Cox said.

In past years, House bills regarding marijuana have only made it as far as being assigned to General Assembly committees and discussed in open public hearings. However, that doesn't mean legalization won't happen. 

"Will Missouri legalize marijuana? We might very well do that," Cox said. "Is that a good public policy? I think it's a terrible policy, but you know we might do it. We've made other mistakes in history, done other things we shouldn't do. So I don't know exactly what the future might bring, but I think, I would hope, that Missouri residents and lawmakers reflect upon the general health of the public."

If not in 2014, Viets said he is optimistic that legalization will occur in the next couple of years. The newly submitted bills are still waiting to be assigned to a General Assembly Committee. 

More News

Grid
List
KANSAS CITY, Mo.— Missouri prisons have been ordered to eliminate smoking after an asthmatic inmate serving a life sentence for... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 8:13:00 PM CDT September 24, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS — Seven people are facing rioting and resisting arrest charges for their role in a protest that turned... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 8:05:41 PM CDT September 24, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – Shoppers at the Columbia Mall got to experience something a little different than normal on Sunday. Local... More >>
3 hours ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 6:47:00 PM CDT September 24, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - More than 1000 children and adults visited the Compassion Experience in Columbia as of Sunday. The Compassion... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 3:48:00 PM CDT September 24, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A rally with live music kicked off the 2017 walk for the climate in Columbia Sunday. "We're... More >>
6 hours ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 3:21:00 PM CDT September 24, 2017 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA- Officers responded to a robbery the Sonic Drive-In restaurant at 5700 St. Charles Rd. Saturday night around 10 p.m.,... More >>
10 hours ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 11:32:00 AM CDT September 24, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- Saturday night, around 7 p.m., a vehicle led a Callaway County Sheriff's deputy on a high-speed chase, according to... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 10:07:00 AM CDT September 24, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Jabberwocky Studios unveiled its second mural Sunday in Downtown Optimist Park. Jabberwocky is a local arts program... More >>
17 hours ago Sunday, September 24 2017 Sep 24, 2017 Sunday, September 24, 2017 4:47:00 AM CDT September 24, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – Kerryon Johnson ran for five rushing touchdowns, including four in the first half, as the No. 15 Auburn... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 9:28:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in Sports
COLUMBIA - Bikers gathered in Centralia Saturday to show support for a young sexual assault survivor. At least 60... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 7:05:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Cooper's Landing hosted the first Rock n' Roll River Festival Saturday, where families enjoyed food, a fun atmosphere... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 4:35:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
CAMDENTON - The goal of the seventh annual Lake of the Ozarks Air Show on Saturday was to salute veterans.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 4:14:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Central Missouri chapter of Parents of Murdered Children and Missouri Missing hosted a memorial picnic Saturday... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 3:55:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri has one of the lowest enrollment rates when it comes to the 529 College Savings Plan.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 3:28:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – MU, Auburn, Clemson and LSU are announcing their partnership in the U.S. Tiger University Consortium Saturday. Clemson... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 3:16:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in Top Stories
EVERTON (AP) — Missouri school districts that adopted a four-day school week in recent years are not finding the savings... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 2:14:48 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A school district in Kansas City is praising a bus driver for safely getting 34 children... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 2:10:35 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — An undercover police officer and an Air Force lieutenant were among the 120 people who were... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 23 2017 Sep 23, 2017 Saturday, September 23, 2017 2:07:00 PM CDT September 23, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 80°
10pm 76°
11pm 74°
12am 73°
1am 72°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:20p
Sunday Night Football
10:30p
KOMU 8 News @ 10
11:05p
Sports Extra with Chris Gervino
9:30p
Family Guy
10:00p
Seinfeld
10:30p
Family Guy

Tonight's Schedule

6:00p
Football Night in America
7:20p
Sunday Night Football
6:00p
The Karate Kid III
8:00p
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Family Guy