Marijuana Law Reform Advocates Sue City of Springfield, Missouri

By | The Daily Chronic – The Voice of the Reform Generation

SPRINGFIELD, MO – Maranda Reynolds, Springfield Cannabis Regulation, Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, and the American Victory Coalition filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Springfield and its City Councilmembers for violations of state and federal constitutional rights. Plaintiffs seek actual and punitive damages, injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees.

A 2012 initiative petition effort to place a measure on the November 2012 ballot lessening the penalties for personal cannabis possession, led by local Springfield proponents and funded by Springfield donors, Show-Me Cannabis Regulation and the American Victory Coalition, was unconstitutionally quashed by the City and its Council, according to the Complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

The cannabis law reform measure would protect the educational and employment opportunities of those possessing personal amounts of cannabis while better prioritizing Springfield’s law enforcement resources.  The proposed ordinance is similar to measures passed by localities such as Columbia and Saint Louis, and even conservative states such as Nebraska and Mississippi.  Local advocates turned in enough signatures to place the measure before Springfield voters on the 2012 presidential general election ballot.

According to Maranda Reynolds of Springfield Cannabis Regulation, “A majority of the Springfield City Council voted to pass the measure solely with the intention of repealing it at their earliest convenience, which is an unprecedented decision, and one that deprived Springfield residents of the opportunity to vote on the proposal.” Some council members have already admitted that such a move violated the spirit of the City Charter.

“The suit alleges that the scheme of the Springfield City Council to avoid their duty to either adopt or put this issue to the vote of the people by adopting it and immediately repealing was, at a minimum, a callous and reckless trampling of our clients’ free speech, due process and equal protection rights under the Missouri and United States Constitutions,” said Joseph “Chip” Sheppard, counsel for the plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs tried negotiation with the Springfield City Council in hopes of settling on a compromise measure to no avail.  The actions of a majority of the council members have left the plaintiffs no choice but to seek judicial relief according to Reynolds.

The suit, if its allegations are true, exposes the City to payment for all of the monies expended by the plaintiffs in gathering signatures as well as all of their attorneys’ fees, the City’s and Councilmembers attorneys’ fees, and possible punitive damages if a jury finds that some of the individual members of the Council acted with reckless disregard for the rights of the plaintiffs when adopting the ordinance, solely for the purpose of repealing it, and thus avoiding putting the issue on the ballot, as mandated by the City Charter if not adopted.

 

Source: Carnahan, Evans, Cantwell & Brown press release

Marijuana Law Reform Advocates Sue City of Springfield, Missouri was written by and appears in full on The Daily Chronic. ©2013

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