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

"I think there's some misunderstanding," Payne says. "He's not lobbying in Jefferson City for full legalization. There's no full legalization bill on the table right now. His job is much more focused.... And he is not claiming to represent the department. He never has been. He is representing himself and Show-Me Cannabis when he is lobbying."

Wiegert's lawsuit alleges that he got the necessary approvals to lobby at the capitol, but when police officials found out it was for Show-Me Cannabis, they retroactively denied his approval, citing an unrelated license issue.

A police spokeswoman yesterday declined to comment, citing pending litigation, and deferred to Police Chief Sam Dotson's original statement, which says, in its entirety:

Sgt. Wiegert is not representing the Department. His comments are his own and not what is expected of our officers. The Department will not comment any further on an ongoing personnel matter that is subject to legal action.

Wiegert and Show-Me Cannabis say it's clear the department is trying to block his lobbying because of his affiliation with a pro-legalization group, even if that's not what Wiegert is promoting. And regardless, they argue, he has a right to free speech.

marijuana bud 560.jpg
via

"It's unconstitutional," says Payne. "This is clearly an infringement on Sgt. Wiegert's freedom of speech.... They did approve it, then it became an issue when they found out what he was lobbying for."

He adds, "They are trying to find anything they can use to keep him from speaking out."

(Interestingly, when Daily RFT asked Mayor Francis Slay about the decriminalization proposal last month, he said that he opposes legalization -- which, again, is not on the table anywhere in Missouri at this time.)

Here's how Wiegert's legal team describes his marijuana stance in the lawsuit:

The undertakings by the Plaintiff as a lobbyist for Show-Me Cannabis related to furthering legislation designed to provide law enforcement authorities with the option of issuing a summons for an ordinance violation to individuals found to unlawfully possess small amounts of marijuana in quantities presumed to be for personal consumption rather than require the time consuming process of arresting, booking, processing, and transporting criminally accused to be held while the officer applies for a warrant, thus permitting the law enforcement officer to remain on the streets to address more serious and threatening situations in furtherance of the safety and welfare of those for whom the police are charged with the duty of serving and protecting.

Of the decriminalization proposal, Payne says, "We do ultimately want full legalization. But this is a step in the right direction."

Here's the full complaint filed yesterday.

Complaint

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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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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