Show-Me Cannabis's ambitious goal of getting a statewide marijuana-legalization and regulation bill on the November ballot foundered last month when it was revealed the campaign is short by about 144,000 signatures.
Instead, the group has down-shifted and announced a new petition to pass a decriminalization law in Springfield.
"It occurred to us there's still the possibility to do things at the local level," says Amber Langston, the Western Missouri campaign director. "The activists in Springfield seemed like they had a decent little window of time."
The law would be very similar to one passed in Columbia in 2004. Smokers caught with 35 grams of herb or less would be ticketed instead of arrested, and if found guilty pay a maximum fine of $150. City courts would consider these teeny-tiny busts to be a municipal infraction, as opposed to a misdemeanor in the state court system.
Volunteers in Springfield have roughly a week and a half to gather 2,101 signatures and turn them in to the city clerk. The Springfield city council will have the opportunity to give it the thumbs up, but failing that, the new law would appear on the city's November ballot.
Langston says that implementation in Columbia has gone smoothly, even netting and then benefiting some "high"-profile perpetrators, such as Governor Jay Nixon's son Will. At the time, Nixon even went so far as to point out the pinch was a mere "municipal" matter. The same would not have been true in any other city in the state.
Both paid and volunteer canvassers will take to the streets of Springfield to meet the July 2nd deadline, though supporters can also find area businesses that are hosting a petition on this handy-dandy map.
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