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Marijuana: Gary Wiegert's Free-Speech Lawsuit Goes Forward, Sgt. Hopes to Lobby for Reform

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via
Last week, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed a marijuana reform proposal that would reduce the punishment for minor pot offenses. The policy change is supposed to save police resources and the mayor is expected to sign it into law.

While officials with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have generally supported that effort, they reportedly have not been so supportive of cannabis-reform lobbying -- from within their department, that is. As we've reported, Sergeant Gary Wiegert has alleged in a lawsuit that the department refused to let him moonlight as a lobbyist for marijuana reforms -- and yesterday, he filed a response to SLMPD's motion to dismiss the suit.

"If the goal and objective was to quiet him because they didn't like what he was advocating, then they did more for his cause than quite frankly...even the best lobbyist could do," Albert Watkins, Wiegert's attorney, tells Daily RFT.

See also:
- St. Louis Cannabis Conference: Pro-Legalization Cop Says "Public is Waking Up"
- Shane Cohn Says Police Sergeant's Pro-Reform Lobbying is a Conflict of Interest
- Marijuana: 106.5 Refuses to Air Pot Reform Ad, Says Topic is Too Controversial

Through a federal complaint in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Wiegert's legal team argues that the police department is suppressing his free-speech rights by refusing to let him work as a paid lobbyist for pro-marijuana group Show-Me Cannabis.

Their story is that Wiegert received approval from his superiors in February to do lobbying work at the Missouri State Capitol, but that a Post-Dispatch column on Wiegert published in March made them change their minds. Watkins says the department immediately revoked the approval of the lobbying activities -- and argues that it was clearly because they didn't want one of their employees to be associated with a marijuana group.

sgt-gary-wiegert-image.jpg
via YouTube
Sgt. Gary Wiegert.

The suit seems to have put the department in a bit of an awkward position, considering that the city and SLMPD officials actually have, for the most part, publicly agreed with the very reforms Wiegert supports.

Watkins says the department has issued a gag order against Wiegert, but that the sergeant still hopes he can eventually do lobbying work with Show-Me Cannabis once this matter is resolved. Had the department not retaliated, Wiegert would have been lobbying for bills at the Missouri legislature (similar to the St. Louis proposal) that would permit officers across the state to issue citations rather than arrest and book those found in possession of small amounts of pot.

He would not be advocating for legalization.

In the new response to SLMPD's motion to dismiss, Wiegert's attorneys, quoting past court decisions, write:

Within the context of a public employee, "a public employee does not relinquish First Amendment rights to comment on matters of public interest by virtue of government employment."...The government "cannot condition public employment on a basis that infringes the employee's constitutionally protected interest in freedom of expression."

An SLMPD spokeswoman tells Daily RFT that the department does not comment on pending litigation.

But a March 27 letter from Police Chief Sam Dotson -- which is part of Watkins' latest filing and is on view below -- offers a fair amount of detail on the SLMPD side of the story.

Continue for the letter from Sam Dotson and the full response from Albert Watkins.


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6 comments
stargazer
stargazer

Feverish actions from the jackboots. i think they took the same oath to the constitution.

stargazer
stargazer

Feverish actions from the jackboots. i think they took the same oath to the constitution.

Tony Merklin
Tony Merklin

What ever happened to the First Amendment ????? That's the Important Amendment, not the Second ......

malcolmkyle16
malcolmkyle16 topcommenter

"What of the cripple who hates dancers? What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things? What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless? And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are a violation and all feasters lawbreakers?" 

—Khalil Gibran 

It is the Prohibitionists, a wholly malignant scourge of absolute scoundrels, who are literally strangling the Constitution and starving Freedom to death. And until the Freedom and Constitution of our once proud and prosperous nation is secured, these same prohibitionist parasites, with their promotion of organized crime, murder, terrorism, and economic recession—and who carry with them a disease far fouler than Old Testament leprosy—shall be hunted down, removed from public life, and punished accordingly.

Prohibition is an absolute scourge —The End!  The use of drugs is NOT the real problem, the system that grants exclusive distribution rights to violent cartels, terrorists, and corrupt politicians most definitely IS.

Prohibitionists are simply traitors that haven't yet been Tried and Executed.

James Wright
James Wright

Freedom of speech. If you live the scenario everyday, then you have even more right for input.

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

The hypocrisy within the system is insane!

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