ST. LOUIS • A new law reducing penalties for those caught in the city with small amounts of marijuana will go into force on June 1.
The bill, which was championed by Alderman Shane Cohn, gives police officers the option to redistribute some marijuana cases to the municipal court system, essentially making a criminal infraction a municipal offense. Violators would typically be given a summons to appear in municipal court instead of handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. Police currently charge marijuana offenders under more harsh state laws because no local law is on the books.
As expected, Mayor Francis Slay signed the bill last week, according to his spokeswoman Maggie Crane. The Board of Aldermen previously approved the measured last month.
Right now, under that state law, a first offenders caught with a small amount of marijuana — from a gram to 35 grams— is charged witha misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second offense for possession of more than 35 grams is considered a felony, which carries stiffer punishment.
The penalty for a violation of the new city ordinance would be a $100-$500 fine.