Mo. Lawmakers, Supporters Push for Legal Marijuana in 2014

2 years 9 months 4 days ago March 03, 2014 Mar 3, 2014 Monday, March 03 2014 Monday, March 03, 2014 3:44:00 PM CST in News
By: Taylor Barth, KOMU 8 Reporter

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
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A man with a history of violent sex offenses dating back to the 1960s has been... More >>
27 minutes ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 11:35:57 AM CST in News
WARRENSBURG (AP) — At a time when reports of anti-Muslim sentiment are rising, members of a west-central Missouri Islamic Center... More >>
49 minutes ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 11:14:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Schurz and McDavid residence halls on the University of Missouri's campus could close indefinitely after the 2016-17 school... More >>
1 hour ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 10:57:00 AM CST in News
CLAYTON (AP) — St. Louis County police are searching for a man who allegedly tried to run over officers with... More >>
1 hour ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 10:16:00 AM CST in News
CRESTWOOD (AP) — Officials in St. Louis County's Rockwood School District are investigating after a school bus caught fire on... More >>
1 hour ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 10:09:47 AM CST in News
CLAYTON (AP) A 24-year-old Missouri woman is accused of causing a wreck last weekend that killed a passenger in her... More >>
1 hour ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 10:03:54 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A rock-loving orangutan named Rubih is suspected of going ape on the observation windows of her... More >>
2 hours ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 9:16:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Residents in the Columbia area will be able to speak their minds Tuesday at a public hearing about... More >>
9 hours ago December 06, 2016 Dec 6, 2016 Tuesday, December 06 2016 Tuesday, December 06, 2016 2:35:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Two members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, who wished to remain anonymous, told KOMU 8 News Monday night... More >>
12 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 11:33:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS - Governor-elect Eric Greitens' wife Sheena was robbed at gunpoint Monday night. According to KSDK, St. Louis Police... More >>
14 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 9:49:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is seeing an increase in the number of state highway fatalities, and MoDOT is worried it's... More >>
16 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 7:19:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A group of University of Missouri students exceeded everybody's expectations in gift giving this holiday season, and the... More >>
17 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 6:49:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Columbia is looking to cut down on traffic deaths and serious injuries, and is looking to join a... More >>
17 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 6:36:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council voted 5-2 in opposition to an ordinance that would have revised some licensing regulations... More >>
17 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 6:10:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Engineering crews kicked off three months of work on Nifong Blvd. on Monday as part of the road's... More >>
18 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 5:49:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - The fourth annual CoMoGives Campaign has some lofty goals for the 2016 holiday season, hoping to raise more... More >>
21 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 2:19:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia police grew furry faces during a No Shave November fundraiser to benefit a local children's home. ... More >>
22 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 1:59:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — A single-car crash left a Fulton woman dead on Interstate 70 near Highway 40 and the Midway Travel... More >>
22 hours ago December 05, 2016 Dec 5, 2016 Monday, December 05 2016 Monday, December 05, 2016 1:53:00 PM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 36°
12pm 39°
1pm 39°
2pm 40°
3pm 41°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
12:30p
Inside Edition
11:00a
Jerry Springer
12:00p
Jerry Springer
1:00p
Maury

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
8:00p
This Is Us
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
No Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld