Marijuana Decriminalization Effort Has Week to Close Signature Gap

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Over a month into a signature-gathering effort in Springfield, activists for Show-Me Cannabis say they are still short about 1,500 valid names.

The petition would get a marijuana-decriminalization law put before the city council at their August 13 meeting and place it before voters on the November ballot. That means the team has one week to drum up the names to keep the initiative from dying.

"We actually knew ahead of time when we turned in our first round of signatures that it most likely wouldn't be enough," says Maranda Reynolds, the head of the volunteer effort in Springfield.

The law would be very similar to one passed in Columbia in 2004. Smokers caught with 35 grams of herb or less would be ticketed instead of arrested, and if found guilty pay a maximum fine of $150. City courts would consider these teeny-tiny busts to be a municipal infraction, as opposed to a misdemeanor in the state court system.

The deadline has been something of a moving target, but 2,101 signatures need to be verified by the city clerk by August 7. That's how much time city administrators need to prepare the city council for a vote on the measure at its August 13 meeting. The council has the option to pass the bill itself, though that's highly unlikely. Should they vote it down, the issue would go before voters on the November ballot.

As of last Wednesday, the campaign turned in 3,050 signatures and the city came back with the number deemed valid: 936. Since that tally, the volunteers have turned in an additional 800, according to Reynolds, toward their rough goal of 1,500.

"We're still on pace to get enough signatures to make it to that August 13 meeting," assures Reynolds. "That's what we intended."

Springfielders looking to lend their John Hancock to the effort can find petitioners here.


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