In the latest of nationwide marijuana reform, city officials in St. Louis have recently voted to lessen penalties for those caught with pot. According to St. Louis Today, The Board of Aldermen voted 22-3 this week to significantly reduce penalties within the city.
“I think this is a good step for the city of St. Louis,” said Alderman Shane Cohn, who championed the issue. “It doesn’t legalize marijuana, but it gives fairness.”
Currently, the city charges those who are found in possession of marijuana with a misdemeanor offense under state law. Because there isn’t a city ordinance, the jurisdiction falls to the state. However, with the new ordinance in place, possession of marijuana will be treated as an infraction.
The ordinance will take effect June 1. Until then, you are still subject to arrest and jail time for pot possession. But after that time, you will likely be cited to court. This means police will most likely dole out tickets rather than slap on handcuffs. The fine assessed for a possession violation would be between $100 and $500.
There is some vagueness in the new law, as it doesn’t tell officers what a “small amount” of marijuana is. In most towns with similar decriminalization ordinances, a small amount is less than a single ounce. But leaving this determination up to individual police officers could result in some pretty widely varied interpretations. Hopefully, the police department will write policy specifying a particular amount.
St. Louis falls far behind Columbia, who passed a similar ordinance nearly 10 years ago. But the Springfield City Council’s version of the decriminalization ordinance didn’t last long, with them repealing it after only a month. In that city, officials said the policy made them look “drug friendly”, because apparently, they are all about appearances.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is expected to sign the bill into law unless a “legal flaw” is discovered within.
Missouri state law says possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor which carries up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. If it’s your second offense, the penalties are greater.
If you are caught in possession of marijuana and are facing criminal charges, contact our offices today.