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Missouri Look to Lower Punishments for Marijuana

Marijuana decriminalization is up for debate in the Missouri House of Representatives. A lawmaker is looking to lower the punishment for certain amounts of possession, as well as standardize that amount across all counties. 

The bill before the House of Representatives on Thursday would reduce penalties for marijuana possession in an effort to stop what its sponsor is calling a “war on marijuana.”

The house bill would reduce the punishment for possessing less than 100 grams of marijuana to an infraction. The current law in Missouri makes possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana a Class D felony.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Shamed Dogan, said this would allow law enforcement to focus on prosecuting the possession of more serious drugs like opioids, heroin and methamphetamine.

“One out of every 10 arrests in our state, one out of 10 man hours that law enforcement is spent putting handcuffs on someone is putting handcuffs on someone who is possessing marijuana. That is the most serious offense that they have.”

Six individuals testified in support of the bill at its hearing, including the police chief from New Haven and the ACLU of Missouri.