Thursday, November 29, 2012

Missouri Legislators Who Want to Legalize Or Decriminalize Marijuana

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM

click to enlarge Rory Ellinger (left) and Chris Kelly (top right).
  • Rory Ellinger (left) and Chris Kelly (top right).

Feeling pangs of jealousy over marijuana legalization passing in Washington state and Colorado? Never fear, there's a couple of Missouri legislators who've got the bug too.

Representatives Chris Kelly (D-Boone) and Rory Ellinger (D-University City) are interested in introducing bills that would significantly relax some of Missouri's ultra-harsh marijuana laws.

"I'm interested in keeping people out of prisons if ever possible," says Ellinger. "I'm also interested in keeping families together and not being torn apart by juvenile court because of marijuana."

According to one report, Kelly is interested in introducing a full-blown marijuana legalization bill. Unfortunately, numerous messages left for him were unreturned and we're not sure what his plans are at this point.

Ellinger has heard about Kelly's possible interest in a legalization bill, but isn't ready to jump onboard just yet.

"I have a lot of respect for Representative Kelly. He's very independent minded," says Ellinger. "I'm not sure I would be in favor of the [legalization] bill right now. I'd want to look at it some more, and look at any studies and reports."

Instead, Ellinger is interested in two potential bills -- one that would decriminalize marijuana possession in small amounts and one that would provide a record expungement option. The decriminalization law would be similar to the Columbia law that passed in 2004, which made getting caught with 35 grams or less a municipal infraction. Smokers would get a fine rather than a night in jail and a felony criminal record. The expungement bill would provide a way for one-time offenders to scrub their records clean, if they demonstrate four or five years of good behavior after getting busted with a misdemeanor-sized amount of pot.

"It does not become part of one's life record so that you can never teach in a school, you cant even get food stamps," says Ellinger. "I'm not sure complete legalization -- that we'd be completely ready for that, but I'm ready to listen to Representative Kelly."

So there you have it, Missouri. If you want it, get at these two.

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