by Sam Levin
A successful marijuana reform effort in St. Louis could pave the way for policy changes across Missouri -- and key cannabis advocates say they are now looking toward Kansas City.
Statewide advocacy group Show-Me Cannabis says it is in the very preliminary stages of pushing for so-called "decriminalization" in Kansas City just like the bill that the St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed last week. Once Mayor Francis Slay signs the proposal into law, which he is expected to do, cops here will be directed to treat the most minor pot possession offenses as low-level crimes equivalent to traffic violations. The effort -- which in no way legalizes marijuana -- is aimed at saving police resources by avoiding the lengthy processing of individuals caught with small amounts.
"We hope that St. Louis will be a catalyst for other cities," John Payne, Show-Me Cannabis executive director, tells Daily RFT. "We'd certainly like the same thing to happen in Kansas City."
See also: - St. Louis Cannabis Conference: Pro-Pot Cop Says "The Public is Waking Up" - Poll Says Majority of Missourians Favor Legalizing Pot, Regulating Like Alcohol - Police Sgt. Gary Wiegert is Suing Department for Suppressing His Pot Lobbying
On the heels of success in St. Louis, marijuana reform advocates in the state have been soliciting support from Kansas City residents, asking them to start talking to local legislators there about this kind of proposal.
Show-Me Cannabis has not launched any formal campaign. The first step, Payne says, is simply identifying elected officials in Kansas City who might be interested in bringing this kind of policy reform to their city.
In Kansas City, he explains, advocates could also in theory collect voter signatures for a local ballot initiative. But for now, the group will start by reaching out to elected officials. (A ballot initiative would require a lot more time and resources than a council bill).
At this point, St. Louis and Columbia are the only cities with this kind of law in Missouri. Kansas City would be the next logical target, though Payne says that he hopes supporters across the state would reach out to their local elected officials and consider these reforms.
Show-Me Cannabis brought a decriminalization proposal forward in Springfield that lawmakers there managed to kill, he adds.
Payne says of St. Louis' success, "This is a major metro area in the state.... We're certainly hopeful this will speed things along."