It has become increasingly accepted wisdom that incarcerating people for possession of small amounts of marijuana is a waste of police resources and taxpayer money. This spring the board of aldermen did a very smart thing and overwhelmingly passed a marijuana-decriminalization ordinance for the city of St. Louis. Now possession of 35 grams or fewer of pot is a ticketable offense as opposed to a criminal misdemeanor. The fines still suck — $100 to $500 — but the ordinance will keep many nonviolent offenders out of jail and out of the criminal-justice system. In a city as racially and socioeconomically stratified as ours, it is heartening to see city leaders adopt this kind of forward-thinking, progressive law-enforcement philosophy. Here's hoping the change in the law can break the cycle of incarceration and poverty for at least some of our citizens.
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