Alderman Bret Narayan

St. Louis Decriminalizes Cannabis And Paraphernalia

St. Louis Decriminalizes Cannabis And Paraphernalia

St. Louis’ Board Bill 132 repeals city laws related to possession of small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia such as glass pipes, bubblers, bongs, or anything of that nature. Mayor Tishaura O. Jones said the ordinance helps “put the safety back in public safety,” adding that the measure will help address racial disparities in the city’s enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws. Over the past three years, of the almost 600 arrests in St. Louis for marijuana-related charges, nearly 500 were Black.

The bill’s sponsor, Alderman Bret Narayan, is predictably pleased that it passed.

“It will allow for our law enforcement officials to use their resources on the most pressing issues in our region, help with labor shortages in our City departments, and will also help prevent our injured first responders from falling into the pitfalls of opiate addiction,” said Narayan.

At Monday’s signing ceremony, Mayor Jones told the press, “We are seeing a major shift in the way our country sees not just marijuana, but how it connects to public safety, incarceration, and economic opportunity in our communities. This law will help reduce racial disparities in our policing, make our city safer, and make St. Louis more competitive in hiring for city positions.”

While the bill changes the city’s cannabis enforcement policy, it doesn’t provide complete protection from prosecution. Police can still pursue charges under state law.

Dan Viets, executive director of the Missouri chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, insists that the focus on cannabis reform must continue at the state level. Cannabis legalization advocates are collecting the 170,000 signatures needed to put a recreational cannabis initiative on Missouri’s 2022 election ballot.

State and local jurisdictions still struggle to address the ongoing social, economic, and racial inequity associated with cannabis. And this current decriminalization measure has the support of many activists and representatives of Missouri’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry.

Tom Muzzey, CEO of SWADE Cannabis, which operates five dispensaries in St. Louis, says, “policy reform is vital.” Muzzey added, “Together, with our partners, we are committed to fighting for the changes needed to create a more just and equitable industry.” 

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