Show-Me Cannabis, our partners in Missouri, have done some great work helping reform cannabis laws in our nation’s heartland. SMC organizes initiative signature drives, helps host educational conferences, lobbies city councils and the Missouri Legislature and promotes positive media for the cannabis law reform movement. An example of positive media is this letter to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by a dedicated SMC intern:
St. Louis legislators are beginning to acknowledge that our current, prohibitionist marijuana policies have failed. The St. Louis Health and Human Services Committee unanimously passed a bill proposed by Alderman Shane Cohn that treats possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana as a non-arrestable offense, like a traffic ticket. That bill now awaits a vote by the full Board of Aldermen. If they pass it, St. Louis law enforcement agencies will have more resources to focus on violence and property crimes, while saving taxpayers money in the process. State Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, has also proposed a bill that would do the same throughout the state.
Legislators should pass these measures because Missouri can no longer afford to wage a war on marijuana, especially when it comes to its youth. Saddling a Missourian in his teens or 20s with a lifelong criminal record for possession of a small amount of marijuana hinders his chances of ever becoming a fully productive member of society. Prospective employers often pass over applicants who have any sort of blemish on their criminal record. Missourians with limited employment opportunities earn less income, and therefore pay less in taxes. Lifelong lack of employment opportunities can force Missouri’s citizens to rely on government social programs, so, because of our harsh marijuana laws, former offenders end up being funded by the state instead of funding it through lawful employment.
Last year, more than 18,000 Missourians were arrested for possession of marijuana, most of whom will receive criminal records. This will impede their ability to find employment, further their educations, and even rent an apartment. Taking a new approach to marijuana in Missouri makes sense. The people of Missouri should contact their legislators and explain the importance of changing these draconian laws.
Chris Mann • Woodson Terrace
A sincere thanks to Chris and all activists like him, across the country that take the time to help educate people about our nation’s desperate need for cannabis law reform. So long as we continue speaking the truth, cannabis prohibition will certainly fall. City by city. State by state. Until we are all free.
Republished with the special permission of the National Cannabis Coalition