May 112013
 May 11, 2013

springfield missouri city hall marijuana decriminalizationBy John Payne

As you probably recall, last summer we helped activists in Springfield gather signatures to put an initiative petition before the Springfield City Council that reduced penalties on possession of less than 35 grams of cannabis. The council was supposed to have two options: Either vote for the measure and make it law, or vote against it and send it to the city’s voters in November. Instead, the council invented a third option: Vote for the measure, simply to repeal it at their next meeting for the express purpose of keeping the voters from having their say.

It has been a long time since I have updated you about this issue, but that is not because we gave up — quite the opposite. Soon after the council repealed the ordinance, we began searching for a law firm to represent the activists in Springfield — including Show-Me Cannabis Regulation board member Maranda Reynolds and tireless SMCR volunteers Trish and Daryl Bertrand — whose rights the council had violated. Since then, we have worked behind the scenes with those attorneys to either find an acceptable compromise with the Springfield City Council, or, if a compromise cannot be found, help the local activists sue the City in federal court.

On Monday, the council held a public hearing on a revised version of the ordinance that they adopted and repealed last fall. Seven people spoke in favor of the proposal, including a doctor, three lawyers, and two people who work in drug treatment. No one spoke against it. The local media covered the meeting extensively, and you can also view the entire proceeding online at Springfield’s City View (discussion of this issue starts at roughly the 25:30 mark).

The council will be voting on the idea in two weeks, and I believe they want to reach a compromise that will spare all parties the time and expense of a lawsuit. However, they are also extremely reluctant to lead on this issue, so they want to punt and place it on the ballot during a special election this August. Turnout at special elections is extremely low, and a large chunk of Springfield’s student population would still be out of town for the summer, making the proposed ballot a particularly poor representation of all Springfield voters.

If you live in Springfield, please write your City Council members now using our advocacy page and urge them to pass the compromise proposal before them, instead of putting it up for a vote at a low-turnout election!

No matter where you reside, please contribute to help us pay the legal fees for these devoted Springfield activists. The American Victory Coalition, our primary institutional supporter, has footed most of the (substantial) legal bill thus far, but we need your financial support to finally bring these negotiations to an agreeable conclusion. Contribute now!

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Teresa

    I live here in the center of Springfield and I am pissed that city council is shafting us of our consitunial rights. Expecially when I have to watch the crack dealers just down the street openly deal from their front yard and I have to be the worse criminal. There have been a few shootings in this neighborhood and it is only 2 blocks the the Jail and both the sherriffs office and the police station. However if they would stop worrying about and harassing minor possession charges maybe they would have the time to do their job, Instead they fill the jail with one and two timers on minor possesions. I have even seen friends do a year for a roach. This has to change.

  • Choom Gang

    I googled the word Springfield, it is quite a popular name for a city.

    • Teresa

      Springfield Missouri

  • curious2

    I assumed that you meant Springfield, Oregon, however I was not positive. Many of us share your posts worldwide so a little more clarification would be great. I hope that Oregon finally decides like it’s neighbor to the North to decriminalize marijuana, at least they have a medical provision unlike other states.

  • Georgeatt

    I assumed he meant Springfield, Il.