Springfield, Missouri, residents packed Monday’s city council meeting, letting the council members know that they do not appreciate elected officials subverting democracy. The Springfield City Council recently voted to pass a marijuana decriminalization measure sponsored by Springfield Cannabis Regulation (and heavily funded by NCC) that would allow for law enforcement resources to be prioritized to combat serious and violent crime while also protecting citizens’ educational and employment prospects. Unfortunately, a majority of council members have expressed their intention to just merely repeal the ordinance after it has been on the books for merely 30 days.
The Springfield City Charter states that citizens “shall have power to propose any ordinance, except an ordinance appropriating money and to adopt or reject the same at the polls.” Springfield residents collected the requisite number of signatures to place the decriminalization measure on the November 2012 ballot, but the Springfield City Council decided to deny residents an opportunity to have their say on the measure and now a majority of the council has made it known that they know better than the voters. Having their initiative power made a mockery of understandably doesn’t sit well with many citizens and they let the council members know. From the Springfield News-Leader:
When Springfield City Council approved a bill two weeks ago limiting the penalties for marijuana possession, several members made clear that they did so only to repeal it at the first opportunity.
Monday, 18 speakers signed up to tell council members what they thought of that idea. By and large, it wasn’t complimentary.
“Such a tactic is showing the voting public your distrust in them and makes a mockery of the initiative process,” said Daryl Bertrand, who described himself as a “grateful former medical cannabis user.”
Citizens who not only care about marijuana law reform, but also the sanctity of the democratic process, are mulling any and all options available to stop the the Springfield City Council from abusing the democratic process, including litigation and a referendum campaign. Unfortunately, a referendum would place the measure on the April ballot, a historically low turnout election compared to a November presidential election. If necessary, citizens could gather the signatures again and place the measure on the ballot again. If residents are forced to gather the necessary number of signatures in future years, hopefully the next city council will contain members who respect democracy and the will of the voters.
The National Cannabis Coalition will continue to keep everyone apprised of this situation and will continue to help Springfield activists every step of the way. A lobbying effort, referendum campaign, litigation, another petition signature drive and electing new city council members will take a lot of resources, so please considerdonating to this important fight for cannabis law reform and the democratic process.
Published with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition