Columbia City Council Tables Marijuana Decriminalization Vote

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council decided to postpone a vote Monday night on decriminalizing marijuana and cultivation of the plant for four months. The council said it wanted to discuss the matter more with the Substance Advisory Board before making a final decision.

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The law originally stated it was illegal "for any person to possess 35 grams or less of marijuana or Cannabis in any species or form thereof, including but not limited to Cannabis sativa L., or five grams or less of hashish."

If someone was found with that amount of pot, the individual would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

The amendment would allow Columbia residents to grow up to six plants, and only face a maximum penalty of $250. The changes would allow people with serious medical conditions to use marijuana without punishment.

Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said in a text message, "The focus on this bill would be on the inconsistency of the city's ordinance with the state and federal law, along with how it will complicate enforcement and prosecution, should the amendment be passed." 

The city council was also presented with a petition that had garnered more than 3200 signatures from citizens in the community. Jeremy Root presented the petition that is in opposition of the Opus student housing development, whose contract with the city passed 19 days ago.

Citizens voiced their concerns on other topics as well, such as the sewer rehabilitation project for private businesses such as Flatbranchand the new water main project on Oakland Church Road.  While the sewer bill was passed, the Oakland Church project was tabled for a later date.