Marijuana: Springfield Politicians Again Reject Pot Reform Law, Activists Consider Lawsuit

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Springfield City Councilman Doug Burlison believes that marijuana can be a helpful medicine and that it's time to stop treating it like such a harmful, dangerous drug. Compared to other local elected officials, however, he is very much in the minority -- so much so that his colleagues continue to reject efforts to pass a minor reform that would reduce the punishments for low-level possession cases.

The council once again voted down the initiative this week.

"That's the really frustrating part -- we're talking about a very miniscule lessening of the harshness of penalties," Burlison tells Daily RFT. "I'm extremely disappointed."

This time, however, his colleagues and the mayor may have to deal with more than just criticism. Marijuana advocates are now strongly considering a lawsuit.

On what grounds?

A civil rights violation, they say. The proponents of these reforms argue that elected leaders in Springfield have squelched their efforts by finding ways around the procedures outlined in the city charter.

See also:
- Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Gets Hearing on Last Day of Missouri Session
- After Success With Pot Law Reform in St. Louis, Activists Look to Kansas City
- St. Louis Cannabis Conference: Pro-Pot Cop Says "The Public is Waking Up"

The proposal is a basic decriminalization effort -- a move to have possession offenses under 35 grams be treated more like traffic tickets that don't unfairly burden suspects and stain their criminal records. The city of St. Louis just passed a similar measure, which will officially go into effect in June and cannabis activists in the state are hoping other cities will do the same.

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Doug Burlison.
In Springfield, it's quite complicated.

It's worth noting that none of these measures function as legalization. Locally and across Missouri, marijuana remains illegal -- even if there are supporters who do hope to see an end to prohibition in the state.

In Springfield last year, Burlison explains, citizens collected enough signatures for a successful initiative petition, which, based on city rules, means the government has two options. The council can directly pass it or it can bring it to a vote of the people on the ballot.

"We created a third option that's not really listed in the charter," Burlison says.

The council, he says, passed it -- and then repealed it.

"We as a council subverted the will of the people," he says.

Show-Me Cannabis, the Missouri advocacy group that has led these reform efforts, tried to help negotiate yet another compromise this month. But John Payne, the group's executive director, tells Daily RFT that the council even rejected a watered down version this week.

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At this point, Payne says, it seems the advocates have no other option but litigation.

Continue for more from John Payne and Doug Burlison on the Springfield dispute.

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4 comments
darrenbishop37
darrenbishop37

We're and when can I vote and what kind of vote is needed to get the council to hear the people and what we want to happen ? We are the mugirity and we pay them to tell us what is and what is not right and wrong .. I fell that if we pass this it can help in so meany was and not just for us ,, but the state and crime even the government with all the shut downs and even the money needed to Cuvier medical resurch for all kinds of things and even help fund school bills that still to this day are in default in some form ... We can do some thing so way don't we at lest try to fix this so we can show our kids that we do care about there future and how we look at our self and them just like we are teaching them as good parents ... Every one has a choice in how they live life and as long as we respect each other and have compaction for our loved ones then I fell that this is no different then what we teach our kids as parents and good law biding people in this community that we try to better each day ... How is this any different then how alcohol started and became what it is to day and how people look at it and even the government ,,that we the people put in office to be fair and just to everyone no matter what the topic is about ......

Al_Prazolam
Al_Prazolam

Great work on the part of the author, putting this is the"Puff puff pass" category of news coverage.  Drug War heathens will do anything to keep their budgets, right out of the Anslinger playbook of 1930.  The 1 trillion dollar a year war on drugs doesn't work, when will people realize reform is needed?  CCA, the privatized prison corporation is spending millions to keep pot illegal, I wonder why?  I bet it is out of concern for our safety.  Follow the money idiots!

joeyismail
joeyismail

Sue the living crap out of them, there is no way this lunacy is legal. They àte making a mockery out of the democratic process. The law says approve it or put it to a vote. They are trying to do an end around democracy. I've never seen such a blatant violation of everything this country was built on in my life. People fought and died for our freedoms and democracy, some glorified home owners association cannot be allowed to urinate on our way of life with impunity. If this madness is allowed to stand, we might as well rip up the constitution, stop voting, and obey our lords and kings.

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