Marijuana possession
5:00 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Committee Approval Delayed For Marijuana Penalty Reduction

It'll take another week for supporters of a bill reducing some marijuana possession penalties in St. Louis to get first-round approval for the legislation.

The city's Health and Human Services committee today delayed a vote on the measure, which allows police officers to issue citations to individuals with small amounts of marijuana.

Some members of the committee wanted a clearer definition of "small amount." Its chair, Ald. Stephen Conway, requested that half of the fines collected go toward substance abuse treatment.

"That’s the one thing that as a society, a city, a state, a country we’re not doing," Conway said. "I think at some point in time, as a society, we’ve got to be responsible to at least offer the opportunity for the person to have self-introspection."

Ald. Shane Cohn, the sponsor, was happy to make those changes. He said the set-aside for mental health treatment may actually earn him additional votes.

"I think most of my colleagues realize that at the state level, we’re not doing enough to fund mental health services, and sometimes the city has to step in and do that," Cohn said.

Cohn will also remove language that exempted valid medical marijuana prescriptions, which do not exist at the federal or state level. That language was a concern for police chief Sam Dotson, among others.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann