St. Louis Officials Pass Cannabis Decriminalization Bill

The St. Louis, Missouri Board of Aldermen approved a measure to decriminalize cannabis possession up to 35 grams, remove cannabis screening from the hiring process for most city positions, and stop cannabis from being used as the basis for a warrantless police search.

Full story after the jump.

The St. Louis, Missouri Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved a measure to decriminalize possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis and paraphernalia. The bill moves next to Mayor Tishaura Jones who supports the reforms.

“A huge pillar of my administration is writing historic wrongs. That means addressing tough issues like our city’s outdated marijuana laws that are unfair, unnecessary, and discriminatory. In the past three years, nearly 600 people in St. Louis City were arrested for marijuana-related charges. Of those individuals almost 500 were Black ” Jones said in a video posted to Twitter.

Jones adds that 82% of St. Louis voters backed the state’s medical cannabis ballot question.

“Let me be clear: incarcerating people for marijuana-related, low-level, offenses does not make our neighborhoods safer,” she said in the video. “Needless contact with the prison system harms families and communities across our city.”

The bill also includes language preventing cannabis from being used as the basis for a warrantless search by law enforcement and includes provisions to no longer include cannabis testing as part of the hiring process for most city positions.

In an interview with KSDK, Alderman Bret Narayan, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure has the buy-in from both the city public safety director and the director of personnel.

Missouri NORML’s Dan Viets said that while the bill repeals local ordinances, “police still have the option to pursue charges under state law.” He added that the organization is collecting 170,000 signatures to get a statewide legalization vote on the November 2022 ballot.

In April, the St. Louis County Council approved a similar bill, as did the Maplewood City Council. In September, the Kansas City Council ended pre-employment drug screenings for cannabis for most city jobs.

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