ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Several members of the board of aldermen admit to their own marijuana past, as they finalize the language on a bill softening the penalty for pot.
By a vote of 16 to 8 the board perfected a measure backed by the Circuit Attorney’s office calling for traffic-ticket like summons and fines of up to five-hundred dollars for those caught with small amounts of marijuana. Backers say the measure would free up police to go after more serious crimes.
KMOX asked aldermen in the coffee room whether they had ever tried marijuana in their youth.
“Absolutely,” said Alderman Fred Wessels, “I think I was in the Army in Kansas, and then later was in Vietnam and it was available over there as well.”
Alderwoman Lyda Krewson said she tried marijuana years ago. “Many, many years ago,” Krewson said, “I didn’t get into it, so I didn’t have to get out of it. I just tried it.”
Alderman Larry Arnowitz also answered the question. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve smoked it in my younger days,” Arnowitz said.
In a random sampling, other alderman admitting they tried marijuana in their past include: Steve Conway, Antonio French, Joe Roddy, Joe Vaccaro and Frank Williamson. None of the aldermen who tried it say they are endorsing marijuana smoking and none favor decriminalization.
Among those aldermen claiming to have never tried marijuana: Tom Villa, Jennifer Florida, Joe Volmer and the bill’s sponsor Shane Cohn.
“Marijuana is a gateway drug, just as cigarettes and alcohol are a gateway drug,” Cohn said. When asked how he dealt with the temptation of people offering to try marijuana, Cohn said, “I just said no and in some cases I had to yell it.”