Activists working to decriminalize marijuana submitted a petition with over 2,500 signatures to the Springfield city clerk on Friday. The petition, which seeks to lessen the penalty for minor amounts of marijuana, had 2,549 signatures, according to Show-Me Cannabis Regulation board member Maranda Reynolds. Assistant City Clerk Anita Cotter said 2,101 valid signatures are needed to move the petition forward to City Council. Reynolds said the group is still collecting signatures and is striving for 4,000 signatures — “just to be safe.” Funds were raised — including nearly $1,400 in a little over 24 hours on July 3 — to hire a professional signature gathering firm , Reynolds said. Now that the signatures are submitted, the city clerk’s office has 20 days to approve the signatures. Once the correct number of signatures is certified, the petition will be submitted to City Council for two readings. The council can then pass the petition or submit it to a vote. If the petition falls short, organizers have 10 days after being notified of insufficient signatures to submit more. The city clerk then has 5 days to certify those signatures. “I think we’re on pace to make it onto the ballot (in November),” Reynolds said. There is a possibility that the council can approve the petition and vote it into law. Reynolds said it’s hard to say how the council will vote. “I don’t think it is impossible,” Reynolds said. “We hope that the City Council will take a good look at it as it is and come to the same conclusion as us.” Reynolds said she feels confident that if the proposed ordinance makes it to the vote, it will pass. But she said she can’t be completely sure. “When I’ve been out, I haven’t heard anyone talk poorly about it,” she said. When collecting signatures, she said people almost always sign. The petition seeks to lessen the penalty of having 35 grams or less of marijuana, Reynolds said. It requests an amendment to an existing ordinance so adults are not arrested and only face a fine, community service or counseling for possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana. The most severe penalty would be a fine of up to $150. City Attorney Dan Wichmer initially said in June he reviewed the proposed changes to the ordinance and doesn’t believe they would be legal. Wichmer didn’t immediately return a call Friday for an update of the legality of the petition. The petition is similar in form and wording to one approved by Columbia voters in 2004.
via : News Leader
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