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KBIA's Civics Desk covers issues of local and state government, including the University of Missouri System.

City Council rejects decriminalization of marijuana cultivation


After more than 80 minutes of public testimony, the Columbia City Council voted Monday night against a proposed ordinance that would have decriminalized the cultivation of medical and non-medical marijuana.

For a while, it appeared the ordinance would pass. 

Third Ward Council Member Karl Skala offered an amendment that would have decriminalized cultivation only for medical marijuana. When that amendment failed, Skala stated he would vote against the proposal.

"I'm relying primarily on the arguments with the board of health," Skala said. "10 out of 11 board members recommended that there were issues, that we should not pass this."

That evened the vote count to three in favor and three against with First Ward Council Member Ginny Chadwick representing the swing vote. Chadwick offered an amendment that would restrict the ordinance to apply only to adults, defined as 21 years and older.

The amendment gained the support of the three council members who favored the ordinance: Barbara Hoppe (Ward 6), Michael Trapp (Ward 2), and Ian Thomas (Ward 4). When the amendment passed, the ordinance itself seemed poised to do the same.

But just as the mayor was calling for a vote, Chadwick interjected.

"I didn't propose [the amendment] to gain my support," Chadwick clarified. "I proposed it so that if it did pass that the youth in our community were protected. But we have an ordinance that still conflicts with the state and federal law."

Chadwick’s no vote, together with those of Skala, Fifth Ward Council Member Laura Nauser, and Mayor Bob McDavid, defeated the ordinance 4 votes to 3.

A curious Columbia, Mo. native, Bram Sable-Smith has documented mbira musicians in Zimbabwe, mining protests in Chile, and the St. Louis airport's tumultuous relationship with the Chinese cargo business. His reporting from Ferguson, Mo. was part of a KBIA documentary honored by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and winner of a national Edward R. Murrow Award. He comes to KBIA most recently from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.
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