• Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance Repealed, Democracy Abused

    by  • September 24, 2012 • Blog

    Local Springfield attorney, Robert Sweere, urged the City Council to respect the will of the voters. Unfortunately, the council voted 7-2 to repeal the ordinance and demonstrate their lack of respect for their constituents and the democratic process.

    The Springfield, Missouri, City Council just voted 7-2 to repeal a recently passed marijuana decriminalization ordinance according to Springfield News-Leader reporter Amos Bridges’ Twitter feed.  A sincere thanks to Council Members Doug Burlison and Scott Bailes for respecting the political process, regardless of any personal feelings about the ordinance they may have had.  The ordinance was placed before them by hard-working activists who braved the sweltering Missouri summer to collect thousands of signatures.  Lacking the decency to send the issue to the voters, a majority of the council voted to pass the measure, only to repeal it 30 days later, without letting voters have their say.

    The National Cannabis Coalition will continue working with these great activists in the Show-Me State every step of the way.  A lawsuit could very well be filed as the Springfield City Council clearly abused the citizen initiative law.  We may also help fund another signature drive to place this measure before the council again, and hopefully, the future makeup of the city council will include elected officials who respect the democratic process, regardless of their personal feelings regarding marijuana law reform.  Please donate to this important effort that can have impact in Missouri and beyond.

    The Springfield News-Leader had a great editorial on this issue, with the headline “City Council should honor marijuana petition, respect political process”:

    Passing the initiative that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana just to repeal it is wrong, no matter how you feel about someone lighting up.


    If they take the action they have proposed — to gut the ordinance completely — they may be able to argue the letter of the law allows them to do it, but the intent of the law does not. It is also likely to end up in court, costing the city anyway.

    Council members should set aside their own opposition to marijuana and respect the intent of the people who signed the petition, as well as the right of the voters to decide what they want.

    Hopefully, Springfield voters will replace the members who demonstrated a lack of respect for their constituents and the democratic process.  By making a mockery of the initiative petition law, these city council members have made it obvious that they are not worthy of representing the citizens of Springfield, Missouri.

    UPDATE: Springfield News-Leader reports on the city council’s unfortunate decision.


    Anthony Johnson is the executive director of the National Cannabis Coalition and our parent division, the American Victory Coalition. He also serves as a Board Member of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


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