Missouri Representatives Rory Ellinger and Chris Kelly are working toward reducing the penalties for low level marijuana possession in the state.
The proposed legislation would allow a maximum fine of $250 for individuals caught in possession of 35 grams of marijuana or less, or marijuana paraphernalia. Additionally, individuals caught with low levels of marijuana would be granted a certain type of probation that, if completed, would result in no criminal record.
The goal of the decriminalization measure is to save police time and resources, while also giving people the opportunity to make amends for their possession crime without putting a permanent mark on their record.
Representative Clem Smith explained, “There are things we do early in our year that come back to haunt you. People are blocked from becoming more productive members of society. This is a great start to get people back on the straight and narrow.”
Missouri’s Legislature is Republican controlled, leaving the Reps. unsure of the legislation’s chances. Ellinger is hoping that, at the very least, the bill will get a hearing in the chamber’s Downsizing State Government Committee.
Kelly is more open to a full legalization of marijuana, but understands that smaller steps have a higher likelihood of being accepted by his peers.