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Marijuana decriminalization bill on Mayor Tishaura Jones' desk for signature

The mayor is expected to sign the measure, tweeting Tuesday that it will correct racial disparities.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved Board Bill 132 with 23 votes, essentially nullifying existing laws that criminalize small amounts of marijuana.

"It has the buy-in from the public safety director. It has the buy-in from the director of personnel. We have talked to basically every stakeholder along the way," Ward 24 Alderman Bret Narayan, the bill's sponsor, said.

One of those stakeholders, Mayor Tishaura Jones, tweeted support for the change, emphasizing racial disparities in enforcement.

"In the past three years, nearly 600 people were arrested in the city of St. Louis for marijuana-related charges. Of those individuals, almost 500 were Black," she said.

With multiple locations inside St. Louis city limits, SWADE Cannabis CEO Tom Muzzey said in a statement to 5 On Your Side, they believe "policy reform is vital, and we recognize that states and local jurisdictions are struggling to address the existing issues of social, economic and racial inequity associated with cannabis."

"As a leader in the industry, we believe it is our responsibility to assist with the narrative and offer guidance for all parties involved," Muzzey continued. "Together, with our partners, we are committed to fighting for the changes needed to create a more just and equitable industry."

Now the focus shifts to state policy.

"If we only repeal the local ordinances, police still have the option to pursue charges under state law," Missouri NORML's Dan Viets said.

Viets says they're collecting 170,000 signatures to get a statewide legalization vote on the November 2022 ballot as part of their Legal Missouri 22 campaign.

"19 states now have already legalized adult marijuana use," Viets said. "It's not a radical proposal at all. It's one which will result in much greater control of marijuana regulation. Taxation and legalization are better for everyone."

Board Bill 132 is currently on Mayor Jones' desk, awaiting her signature.