ST. LOUIS — City aldermen are moving to repeal municipal ordinances that make it illegal to possess 35 grams or less of marijuana.
Legislation to do that was given preliminary approval Friday on a voice vote.
The measure follows up a bill passed in 2018 that reduced the maximum city fine for such a violation to $25 from a previous range of $100 to $500 enacted a few years earlier.
The sponsor, Alderman Bret Narayan, 24th Ward, said earlier decriminalization efforts were positive steps but that people who were pleading guilty were still subject to long-term negative ramifications.
He said they could be denied student loans and public housing after pleading guilty.
“It’s long past time that we updated these kind of relics of laws,” he said.
The legislation also would prohibit city resources from being spent to enforce other laws against possession of small amounts of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia.
The bill has the support of Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “The intention is to free up police resources so they don’t even have to worry about arresting someone for a victimless crime,” said mayoral spokesman Nick Dunne.
Jones in a statement said city policy on the issue has been discriminatory, noting that 488 of 591 people arrested in the city in the past three years on marijuana-related charges were Black.
The measure also states that the smell of marijuana or presence of marijuana smoke no longer would be sufficient to establish probable cause to search or arrest someone.
Supporters say that’s aimed at protecting people with valid cards allowing them to buy medical marijuana.
In other action, Alderman Sharon Tyus, 1st Ward, introduced a resolution urging operators of a new health clinic at Jefferson and Cass avenues to stop calling it the Homer G. Phillips Memorial Hospital.
A campaign has been launched against the name, which refers to the 670-bed Homer G. Phillips Hospital that operated for more than 40 years in the Ville neighborhood 1.5 miles to the west.
Originally posted at 8:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.