Prosecutors talk murder sentencing and marijuana legalization

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (MAPA) wanted to make some changes in the criminal justice system.

MAPA held an open forum 4 p.m. on Tuesday at the Capitol. 

Attorneys addressed first-degree murder case sentencing and marijuana legalization.

More than three years ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled that in cases where a killer is less than 18 years old and is facing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the jury must have a second option.

Missouri does not have a second option to consider.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said, "These are very, very dangerous individuals, but there has to be that alternative of either life without parole or a possibility of parole somewhere down the line."

MAPA said Missouri's punishment statute is out of compliance, and crime victims deserve to have a fix.

This is the third legislative session that this was proposed.

MAPA also discussed marijuana for medical or recreational use.

The organization does not support the legalization of marijuana and emphasized its position that marijuana is not medicine. MAPA compared the overall crime increase in Denver from 2012 to 2014, when marijuana was legalized. The crime rate increased by 12.3 percent.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, "I'm sorry to learn that yesterday, a House committee passed a marijuana bill outside of committee on an 11 to 1 vote to legalize medicinal marijuana."