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St. Louis Aldermen Soften Penalty for Small Amounts of Pot

Kevin Killeen
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Alderman Shane Cohn after his marijuana bill passed

Alderman Shane Cohn after his marijuana bill passed

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Marijuana possession — in small amounts — would be a misdemeanor under a bill that passed overwhelmingly in the Board of Aldermen.

By a vote of 22-3, the board approved Alderman Shane Cohn’s bill making it a non-felony to possess 35 grams or less of pot.

“I think the message is still just say no,” Cohn said, “It’s not the right thing to do for your body, but at the same time we need to create an equitable and just environment while creating efficiencies in our government.”

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The measure also had the support of law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office, based on the argument that police and the circuit court will have more time to go after more serious crimes. Police would be able to issue a summons similar to a traffic ticket, and no longer have to handcuff an offender and take him in.

Those caught with small amounts would show up for a municipal court date and face penalties of up to 90 days in jail and $500 in fines.

Under the felony system, they would have faced up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

Alderman Joe Viccaro voted against marijuana bill.

Alderman Joe Viccaro voted against marijuana bill.

Among the three aldermen who voted “NO”, Alderman Joe Viccarro warned that marijuana is still “a gateway drug.”

“I think kids are under a lot of peer pressure and they make a lot of bad decisions,” Viccarro said, “It may start with marijuana.”

Aldermen Tom Villa and Sam Moore also voted NO. The bill now heads to Mayor Slay’s desk.

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