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Group in Springfield stokes push to legalize pot in Missouri

December 07, 2011|by Paula Morehouse, KY3 News | pmorehouse@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Armed with petitions and asking for signatures on Monday night, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, is helping garner support in Springfield to make pot legal in Missouri.

"I don't think it has a chance, I know it has a chance," said Maranda  Reynolds, a NORML representative from Springfield.

The Show-Me State could have a ballot initiative in 2012 for the complete legalization of marijuana. About 150,000 signatures are needed to get it on the ballot in August or November. 
The amendment would allow marijuana to be regulated the same way as alcohol.

"I think that's what really makes this a strong bill.  We're not saying that everyone can have it at any time with any amount.  Really, you have to be 21 to buy it over the counter, and you can get it for medical purposes if you're 17, but you have to have supervision of a parent and a licensed professional doctor," said Reynolds.

Even with the backing of  Springfield City Councilman Doug Burlison, who was the keynote speaker at a forum on Tuesday, getting support at a NORML event may prove a lot easier than getting support at the ballot box.

Marijuana has long been debated as a gateway drug that leads to other drug use and crime.

"As long as laws are on the books, we will enforce them.  Obviously, we don't want to see things out there that are going to create a problem, and we have enough of that right now with the drugs that we deal with, so we just don't want to create a deeper hole for a drug," said Springfield Police Officer David Snider.

Law enforcement agencies in the United States spend billions of dollars fighting the war on drugs.  Come November, Missouri voters might decide whether to legalize one of those currently on the hit list.

"I really, really think it has a chance," said Reynolds.

The ballot initiative calls for the full legalization of marijuana, not just for medicinal purposes. 

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The Springfield NORML chapter meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Springfield-Greene County Library Center on South Campbell Avenue.  Anyone wanting to contact the group can do so through Facebook or by e-mail.

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