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07 November 2005

another flying pig sighted in Missouri


The Columbia Daily Tribune (Missouri USA)
Saturday 5 November 2005

Both Sides Near Deal on Pot Law
Compromise Aims to Avoid Election

by Alan Scher Zagier, The Associated Press

One year after voters handily approved an ordinance that sharply reduces the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, Columbia police officers and Boone County prosecutors have joined the measure's chief backer to quietly push a compromise.

The former opponents are saying little about their negotiations, which began earlier this year after Columbia police started a petition drive to overturn the new law. But the original supporters say the revised ordinance -- which will likely require Columbia City Council approval -- is designed to prevent repeat offenders and those charged with committing other crimes while holding pot from taking advantage of the more lenient sentencing guidelines.

The new law, which was approved by nearly 62 percent of voters in November 2004, requires police to treat those possessing as much as 35 grams, or 1 ounce, of marijuana as low-level misdemeanor offenders subject to municipal court fines of no more than $250 -- a punishment essentially equivalent to receiving a speeding ticket.

Should the offender stay out of legal trouble for another year, the conviction would be dropped.

A related measure that allows seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana within the city limits was approved last year by nearly 70 percent of Columbia voters.

On Tuesday, voters in Denver approved an even more lenient pot possession law that allows residents older than 21 to possess as much as 1 ounce of the drug. The change might be little more than symbolic, though; authorities in the Mile High City said they plan to instead enforce more stringent state laws.

University of Missouri-Columbia junior Bailey Hirschburg, a leader of the campus marijuana reform group, said the compromise is far better than the alternative of a ballot initiative generated by the measure's opponents.

"One of the things we had on our side last year was the "high turnout," said Hirschburg, a Cape Girardeau native and local chapter president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

The status of the police-driven petition drive is uncertain. Sterling Infield, president of the Columbia Police Officers Association, declined to comment, citing a mutual agreement with Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Crane and local civil liberties attorney Dan Viets. The police organization would need 2,275 signatures to put a repeal measure on the ballot.

Hirschburg said supporters fear the results might be different in a nonpresidential election, particularly if it were held in the summer when many students leave Columbia.

That was the case in April 2003, when Columbia voters rejected a similar pot measure.

Crane, who represented police in negotiations with Viets, also declined to discuss the new proposal. Viets, though, said the compromise effort is driven by a desire to avoid another election on the merits of marijuana. "Both sides would prefer not to have to go back to the ballot," he said.

Should elected leaders approve the modified proposal, Viets said he doesn't anticipate further efforts by either side to tighten or weaken the city's pot laws. "There is an element of trust that has to be involved in any negotiations," he said. "If we have an agreement, we anticipate both sides will abide by it."

Mayor Darwin Hindman said he anticipates the measure will win approval by the city's elected leaders, given the advance work done by former foes Crane and Viets.

"That gives it pretty strong credentials," he said.

Copyright: 2005 Columbia Daily Tribune
Contact: editor@tribmail.com
Website: http://www.columbiatribune.com/
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (www.norml.org)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/decrim.htm (Decrim/Legalization)


3 Comments:

Blogger U.B. said...

Well you see...voters seem to realize that making drug abuse a crime isn´t the right way.I recommend reading Barry and the boys by D.Hopsicker and the whole thing about drugs and why they have to be criminalized is clear.Nothing new, though.I am not a friend of drugs at at all.I prefer people beeing clear minded-but even if heroin was legalized every community would get rid of a lot of problemas.Less local crime like shoplifting, buglary and so on.The pharmaceutical industry would get its profit, as well as maybe drugstores.Tax
revenues would rise.Health care would cost less as nomore junk would be sold.Keep sober.Uwe

16:09  
Blogger Bob Merkin said...

If I stay sober, can I still see the paisley-colored giant squids playing football all over my ceiling? Atlantis is playing Mu in the Semi-finals next Tuesday.

09:27  
Blogger U.B. said...

First I excuse, I should have written s t a y sober instead of "keep".Seems my little grey cells are more dammaged as I thought.(Is that a contradiction in itself?)
Anyway......have fun with watching the semi-finals with Stella Maris and Hagbard Celine as referees.Will be fun.
But let me ensure you it is also possible to watch the finals not beeing stoned.
(maybe slow motion wont work that good..)
Ach na ja.UWE

16:44  

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