Springfield NORML is asking for more than 2,000 signatures for a petition to decriminalize marijuana in Springfield.
“Our main goal here is to change marijuana laws because we believe they’re just too harsh,” said Maranda Reynolds, member of Springfield NORML.
In Missouri, it’s a misdemeanor if caught with 35 grams or less.
NORML’s mission is to move public opinion of marijuana use and instead of jail time, only a fine.
“This is an issue seen support all over the country,” said Reynolds.
A recent Rasmussen poll says 56 percent of voters favor legalizing and regulating marijuana, similar to how alcohol and tobacco are regulated.
“This issue crosses party boundaries. It’s not one party or the other. This is something people are changing their minds about and polls show that,” said Reynolds.
Springfield City Councilman Doug Burlison was approached to help organize the petition and says he’s sympathetic to the issue.
“I think it will be a good discussion to have in this community,” said Burlison.
He says the misconceptions of marijuana are taking a turn.
“If marijuana is a gateway drug, than its a gateway drug out of harder drug abuse. Just through my own observations I’ve made that seems to be the case,” said Burlison.
But local law enforcement doesn’t agree.
“We see allot of things that most individuals don’t’ see and when someone’s under the influence and we consider marijuana a gateway drug so if you legalize that gateway drug you’ve opened up and made it more easy and lead into other things,” said Matt Brown, Springfield Police Department.
Supporters say criminalizing marijuana causes more problems than jail time.
“If a case goes to a state court and a person is found guilty then they could possibly lose federal aid to education. This is a big reason why we don’t believe people should lose jobs or education opportunities because they use a small amount of cannabis.
NORML has until August 1 to gather it’s 2,101 signatures.
If the petition is certified, it will be sent to city council before going to voters in November.