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Working to Reform Marijuana Laws in Missouri
Next Monday, September 8 at 3:00 p.m. at the Boone/Columbia Health Department located at 1005 West Worley Street, the Mayor’s Task Force on Violence will be holding a hearing for input from the general public regarding ways violence in Columbia may be reduced.
This would be an excellent opportunity for us to make the point that reducing the penalties for marijuana cultivation might very well result in a reduction in violence in our community. One recent case which illustrates this is that of Mr. Domionte Cheatum. Mr. Cheatum was convicted of killing another young man in a dispute over one pound of marijuana. The Columbia Daily Tribune has reported that Mr. Cheatum apparently tried to steal this marijuana from another individual rather than paying for it. The young man who brought the marijuana to the meeting was killed. Mr. Cheatum has been sentenced to serve 40 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
There have been several similar incidents in Columbia in recent years.
The great irony is that use of marijuana reduces violence. It is only the inflated artificial value of marijuana which is produced by its criminal prohibition which makes it so valuable that people will actually kill each other over a relatively small amount.
We do not have to allow this to continue. It is within the power and authority of our City Council to reduce the incentive to buy marijuana from drug dealers.
There are basically only two ways to obtain marijuana. Either one buys it from a drug dealer or one grows it. Presently, the law in Missouri provides a tremendous incentive to buy it from drug dealers.
The penalty for buying marijuana from a drug dealer is the same as it is for simply possessing it. It is a misdemeanor to possess up to an ounce and a quarter under state law and a city ordinance violation in the City of Columbia.
However, if one even attempts to sprout a single marijuana seed, that is a Class B felony with a punishment of at least five to 15 years in prison, but in the great majority of locations in Columbia, which are within 2,000 feet of the outer edge of the property of a school or public housing, the range of punishment increases to 10 to 30 years or life in prison!
By reducing the penalties for marijuana cultivation, we will reduce the artificial subsidy to drug dealers which presently exist. We will make it far less likely that people will be inclined to shoot each other over small amounts of marijuana.
We need folks who will be able and willing to attend the meeting on Monday, September 8 and make these points. Please do attend that meeting.
The City of Columbia ordinance which would reduce the penalties for cultivation of a few plants under city law will come back before the Columbia City Council in October, most likely on the evening of Monday, October 20. We should urge the Mayor’s Commission on Violence to endorse the passage of Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe’s proposed cultivation amendments.
Another Columbia citizen commission, the Columbia Disabilities Commission, will also be discussing supporting the cultivation ordinances at its meeting next Thursday, September 11 at 3:00 p.m. at the Thomas Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road. This building houses the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and is every near the MU campus.
The Disabilities Commission will probably be voting at that meeting on whether to endorse the cultivation ordinance amendments. It would also be very helpful if you could attend that meeting and show your support for endorsing Councilwoman Hoppe’s cultivation ordinance amendments there. If you know anyone who suffers from a disability, please urge those folks in particular to attend the meeting of the Columbia Disabilities Commission.
Thank you very much.