Columbia proposal would lower marijuana cultivation penalties

A city council member is expected to introduce legislation Monday to eliminate penalties for some small-scale marijuana cultivation.

The proposal, sponsored by councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, would allow anyone who uses marijuana for medical purposes to grow up to six plants for their personal use. Anyone who grows that much marijuana for nonmedical use would face a summons and $250 fine rather than the prison sentence possible under state law.

MU laws professor Rod Uphoff told KRCG 13 the change would make no difference to state or federal law enforcement operating within the city limits, as state and federal laws concerning marijuana remain unchanged. He said it would be up to Columbia police whether they would follow city or state law. City attorneys have called the proposal "inconsistent" with state and federal laws.

Show-Me Cannabis chair Dan Viets said the proposal would not change the legality of marijuana within city limits but rather whether and how small grow operations are punished. He said city, state and federal laws differ on punishments all the time. Viets said the policy would not apply to anyone who grew marijuana and then tried to distribute it.