Marijuana decriminalization in Columbia fails 4-3

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council just shot down a controversial marijuana proposal.

A city council vote of 4 to 3 against the decriminalization of marijuana means that possession of 35 grams of marijuana, along with cultivation of marijuana plants, will still result in jail time. The proposed decriminalization would have changed the penalties for growing marijuana to a fine of $250.

The discussion had two amendments proposed, the first being the separation of medical marijuana possession from simply marijuana possession, which was stricken down. Karl Skala, who proposed the amendment, said that he wanted to be able to vote for simply medical marijuana.

"I feel bad for the people who are having issues with obtaining medical marijuana," Skala said. "But I think we will continue to work on this issue until we can find a proposition that we can all get behind."

The second amendment to the ordinance that did pass changed the language of the ordinance to add "persons of 21 and up" to the decriminalization. This did not end up mattering though, once the vote was cast and the original amendment to the ordinance was stricken down.

Barbara Hoppe backed the proposed amendment to the ordinance, and said her main reason she wanted to see the ordinance pass was because of safety.

"A lot of the problem is with the black market, if we can have people grow this in their own home they cut out the middle man and lower the chance of those dangerous transactions." Hoppe said.

Hoppe also stated before the final vote that possessing marijuana would still be illegal, but it would change archaic laws and the punishment that went along with them to something more rational. 

KOMU asked to speak with City Councilman Michael Trapp, but he declined to comment on the decision. 

The ordinance was by far the most popular and controversial. More than three fourths of the crowd got up and left the meeting directly after the final vote, leaving only a skeleton crew of journalists and other citizens in the audience. 

Jeff Frey, a City of Columbia activist spent his Monday passing out fliers in favor of the amendment to the ordinance. He says that he was mostly concerned for his safety.

"I have once been victimized, you know, I've had a gun pulled on me just because I was trying to transact, I don't want to have to do that," Frey said. "If I'm in my own home, my own castle, grow my own, i don't have to interact with black marketeers that use weapons. It just makes our city safer." 

City Council members did discuss plans to bring attention to the state on their opinion that the laws regarding marijuana are outdated. 

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