Proposed marijuana legislation sparks discussion in Mid-Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - Another discussion regarding the possible legalization of marijuana took place Thursday after lawmakers filed new bills. 

So far, three bills have been filed during the 2015 legislative session. The first bill, HB490, is a pilot marijuana program that would establish a pilot program for the medical use of marijuana. 

Another bill, HJR 15, would legalize marijuana use for people 21 years of age or older. It would regulate use similar to the way alcohol is regulated by requiring proof of age before purchase, prohibiting the sale, distribution, or transfer to minors and prohibiting driving under the influence of marijuana.

HB166 would allow marijuana convictions to be expunged for certain people depending on the passage of a constitutional amendment or other statutory enactment legalizing marijuana. Any felony or misdemeanor offense involving marijuana or marijuana drug paraphernalia committed within three years prior to the passage of a constitutional amendment or other statutory enactment legalizing marijuana would be eligible for expungement.

Dan Viets, a statewide coordinator and national officer for NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), lead Thursday's discussion about marijuana in Missouri. 

"In 2014, we had by far our most successful year in marijuana law reform in Missouri," Viets said. "Six bills were passed in 2014, which reduced penalties for marijuana offenses. We do expect to make further progress in 2015."

KOMU 8 reached out to several anti-marijuana organizations but received no response. In the past, KOMU 8 spoke to former-Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia who 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.

So far, none of the marijuana bills are on the house calender. 

[Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to reflect Stanley Cox's current title. He is a former representative who did not run for re-election in 2014]