Marijuana: Free-Speech Lawsuit Sparks Questions About St. Louis Police Stance on Pot

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Yesterday, we reported on the allegations of Sergeant Gary Wiegert that the metro police department is suppressing his free-speech rights by blocking him from lobbying for marijuana reforms. His attorney has since filed a formal complaint in federal court, on view below.

But what does this latest controversy say about the police department's stance on marijuana?

Show-Me Cannabis, the advocacy group in question in this dispute, says the department's retaliation is noteworthy -- given that St. Louis officials have generally been supportive of the very cause Wiegert is advocating.

Part of the confusion in this case is that while Show-Me Cannabis, a Missouri advocacy group, supports the legalization of marijuana, the policy change that Wiegert is pushing is a decriminalization effort that would reduce the punishments for those found with small amounts of pot. In fact, at the state level and locally in St. Louis there are currently no efforts to legalize marijuana -- even if that is a long-term goal of Show-Me Cannabis.

As we've reported, a St. Louis Board of Aldermen proposal this year aims to give law enforcement the option to issue a summons in certain marijuana cases, with the goal of using resources more efficiently and not wasting time and money on arrests and prosecution through the circuit court when unnecessary. This mirrors decriminalization proposals at the state level.

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Sam Dotson, addressing police officers last month.

The St. Louis Police Department has supported this.

So says John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation.

At a hearing last month on the Board of Aldermen bill, a metro police sergeant testified that it was a good proposal that would save the department resources, Payne tells Daily RFT. And Alderman Shane Cohn, the sponsor, has in the past told us that the police department favors the change. The St. Louis bill we be brought up again in April and could very well pass, Payne says.

If police department higher-ups support the concept, why are they (as the new lawsuit alleges) opposing Wiegert's lobbying?

Continue for more details on the lawsuit and on pot reform proposals.

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12 comments
dregstudios
dregstudios

 The War on Drugs failed $1 Trillion ago! This money could have been used for outreach programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing, free rehab, and clean needles. Harmless drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy. Cannabis can provide hemp for countless natural resources and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in our country out of the red! Vote Teapot, PASS IT, and legalize it. Voice you opinion with the movement and read more on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html  

im103mike2
im103mike2

Most of the police chiefs and sheriffs are in lock step with whatever the DEA and DHS tells to to be in lockstep of because of funding. At least 1/2 of the street level cops support not just decrim but full legalization but the chiefs ...especially those that are elected...are trying to show they are tough on crime by taking any stance they can against pot because they want the votes and the federal funding. The rights of the people is the LAST thing they care about.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Marijuana should be legalized taxed and regulated.

PJ Mitchell Rulo
PJ Mitchell Rulo

btw...POT is naturally grown! just like all the spices in our cabinets.what's the big damn deal?..the good lord placed it here.anyone wanna judge his work?? maryJane Kills no one!! alcohol,perscription drugs,man made drugs and chemical tobbaco DOES.

PJ Mitchell Rulo
PJ Mitchell Rulo

no one is a saint! everyone has their own thoughts and opinions.This guy is getting ran down for nothing,who cares if he's a officer or ex officer.he's a damn human!! half of the police officers any place are crooked and smoke,by gosh them stories will never be told.but this man is gonna be punished for his beliefs?..hmmm

Coinspinner
Coinspinner

Whoa, Mayor Slay is against marijuana reform?!?   C'mon St Louis, let's dump this clown.  I had no idea.

Andrew James Cox
Andrew James Cox

Decriminalizing marijuana doesn't mean legalizing marijuana. Maybe RFT has to spell that out for St. Louisans.

ThatsMyTattooo
ThatsMyTattooo

As long as this state stays stuck in the reefer madness mindset, we'll be stuck in the 1950's. Alcohol actually kills people, every day, but these same anti-legislation guys are clearly imbibing a little too much..... Why does progress move so slowly in the Midwest?? I won't give up though and move to a progressive state, not yet anyway!

spradss
spradss

@Coinspinner Good Idea....vote this dude out, backward thinking does not forward progress.

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