Columbia City Council Will Hear Arguments for Growing Marijuana

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COLUMBIA - On Monday night, the Columbia City Council will hear arguments to decriminalize the cultivation of marijuana in the city for medical patients.

Attorney Dan Viets and University of Missouri senior Benton Berigan will address the Council during the scheduled public comments portion of the meeting.

Berigan is the President of the MU chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Viets is general counsel for the Missouri Civil Liberties Association.

Viets said he will not ask the council to legalize marijuana, but rather request consideration of an ordinance to decriminalize the cultivation of few marijuana plants for personal medical use.

The ordinance would also lessen the punishment for growing for personal medical use, to similar charges for possession of small portions of marijuana.

The ordinance would be similar to one passed in Colorado in December 2012.

Viets also said he believes adopting the ordinance would undercut people dealing marijuana and curb the violent crime related to the drug.

If history is any indication of how the city will receive the idea, Viets pointed to November 2004 when 61 percent of residents voted to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and to decriminalize medical marijuana.

No formal proposal or ordinance is on the table as of yet, but Viets said he is hopeful the city would support it once there is one.

(Editor's Note: This story has been edited to clarify specific legal terminology and other details related to planned arguments.)

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