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St. Louis circuit attorney's office will dismiss some smaller marijuana possession cases

St. Louis circuit attorney's office will dismiss some smaller marijuana possession cases

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St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner testifies during a hearing of St. Louis Aldermen Ways and Means committee on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Gardner talked about expenses related to pursuing felony charges against Gov. Eric Greitens and how she wants to use Prop P money to raise salaries in her office, for recruitment and retention. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

In an email sent to her staff Tuesday afternoon, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said her office would no longer pursue some cases for possession of marijuana under 100 grams.

“Today, after reviewing our data relating to drug possession cases, I have determined that these cases are hampering our ability to administer justice for the people of the city of St. Louis,” the email reads.

Gardner said that effective immediately, her chief warrant officer and team leaders would review every possession of marijuana case under 100 grams. If there are no “aggravating circumstances” surrounding the case or the offender, the case will be dismissed, she said.

Gardner said in her email that she would review other low-level drug possession cases and drug paraphernalia cases when the offender has little or no prior criminal history, and then determine if the each case will be dismissed or put in a diversion program.

“Effective immediately we will no longer issue possession of marijuana cases under 100 grams as the lead charge!” Gardner concluded in her email.

Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, said he was alarmed at Gardner’s directive  to her staff, adding that 100 grams of marijuana is an amount typically possessed not by casual users, but by dealers.

“(Gardner) has a duty to prosecute felonies, and she’s choosing not to fulfill that duty,” Roorda said.

Gardner’s spokeswoman Susan Ryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This year, the Board of Aldermen slashed the fine for individuals caught with a small amount of pot. Rather than $100 to $500, those with 35 grams or less face a maximum fine of $25.

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