Vice Squad
Thursday, November 11, 2004
 
Police Discretion Curtailed by Voters


The prosecutor in Columbia, Missouri seems to think this is a bad thing. The voters in Columbia recently passed two proposals dealing with marijuana. One allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes inside the city limits (with permission from a doctor), and the other requires law enforcement officials to give marijuana arrests the lowest priority. It also significantly reduces penalties for possession of up to 35 grams, and mandates that cases involving possession of small amounts of cannabis go to municipal court rather than state court where penalties are stiffer.

The proposals passed by majorities of 69% and 62%, respectively. Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane opposed the proposals using such arguments as, the "effect on student loans was overstated", referring to the fact that students convicted of drug offenses are not eligible for federal financial aid, and "first-offense possession charges involving small amounts of marijuana [are already sent] to municipal court".

Crane disappointingly noted that "Now, the Columbia police have had some discretion taken away by the voters."

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