Marijuana: Shane Cohn Says Police Sergeant's Pro-Reform Lobbying is a Conflict of Interest

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As we've reported, St. Louis Police Sergeant Gary Wiegert is suing the department, alleging that officials have tried to suppress his free-speech by blocking his pro-marijuana reform lobbying. He is in favor of reducing the punishment in cases of low-level possession offenses as a way to save law enforcement resources -- which is why he signed up to work as a paid lobbyist for advocacy group Show-Me Cannabis in the first place.

Wiegert, however, does not have the support of St. Louis Alderman Shane Cohn -- who has been pushing for the very kind of local marijuana reform that Wiegert is advocating.

"I don't believe that any police officer should be able to lobby," Cohn tells Daily RFT. "It's completely unethical."

See also:
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We recently got a chance to ask Cohn for his take on the metro police department controversy -- and despite his legislative work at the Board of Aldermen, Cohn tells us that he doesn't think a police officer should take on paid lobbying work in this manner.

Cohn has been pushing a bill that would encourage St. Louis law enforcement officials to prosecute minor offenses in the lower city court as opposed to the circuit attorney's office. He argues that it could save limited police resources -- and reduce the consequences for those guilty of the lowest marijuana offenses. That bill is close to getting final approvals and could formally pass when the board resumes on April 15.

His bill has the support of the circuit attorney's office and Cohn says that the police department has endorsed it, too, though SLMPD officials have been silent on the matter in the wake of this free-speech lawsuit.

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via Twitter
Alderman Shane Cohn.

In that suit, Wiegert alleges that he informed his higher-ups that he would be doing lobbying on the side and that when they found out the nature of his lobbying, they revoked original approvals and said he wasn't permitted. The department has not commented on the suit, citing ongoing legal action related to a personell matter, but has said that Wiegert does not represent SLMPD in his comments.

And Cohn, it seems, supports efforts to stop police lobbying on the side.

Continue for more of our interview with Shane Cohn.

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My Voice Nation Help

I agree with Cohn in part, while people shouldn't take positions of their own while representing the city, I believe that people should be allowed to lobby on the side. The fact is, city employees other than the police department have overtly or covertly campaigned on issued that mattered to them not related to their job. I wouldn't have a problem with any police campaigning given it's not in police uniform

Mike Mueller
Mike Mueller

keep it illegal ...we've got more than enough complacency in society ....

Tony Merklin
Tony Merklin

I don't know, but since when does a job, or any job, supersede your Bill of Rights, as an American Citizen......Can we say "Unconstitutional". Of course this is coming out of a STL Alderman/ who are not known for their Wisdom, Leadership or Constitutional Law Knowledge..........they just "try" to run the City.......and not all that efficiently, just check their Track Record.

Joanna Franke Kleine
Joanna Franke Kleine

PS, RFT you could have found a photo of some better-grown product. #seedsandstems.

Jeri Michelle Reuter
Jeri Michelle Reuter

I think it's silly...who better to lobby for change than those on the front lines? Besides, they are people with minds of their own who should be allowed to pursue what they feel is the right course, like anyone else.

JJ O'Brand
JJ O'Brand

Well the city can't control L.E.A.P.

Courtney Ringle
Courtney Ringle

Well.. they can do their jobs, but they dont have to like it. Being on that front line, im sure they can see the wasted time involved with incarcerating people for YEARS merely for holding, while people that have KILLED families because of drinking, get smaller jail sentences. and walk away scott free. only to kill again.. most people in that case never learn and are repeat offenders. being a former stoner myself, i can attest to not wanting to go ANYWHERE after smoking. same with my friends.

Christine O'Neill
Christine O'Neill

I see both sides of the argument. The cops have more skin in the game than most (well, not as much as those who use and sell), and we should hear their opinions on the matter. On the other hand, if they lobby for decriminalization/legalization, it makes it harder for them to do their jobs under the current law.

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

So, they can lobby for the Tea party or other political topics, but not reform?

jaco1175 topcommenter

Shane Cohn is a useless clown.

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