Amendment approval spurs policy change from Prosecutors Office

Mike Bushnell
Northeast News

The Jackson County Prosecutors Office announced Tuesday morning it would no longer prosecute marijuana crimes since Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2 last week, legalizing medical marijuana.

Roughly 66% of voters approved Amendment 2 at the polls last Tuesday. Missouri follows over thirty other states who have legalized marijuana in some form.

“Voters were discerning in considering the issue,” County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker stated in a Tuesday morning release. “That mandate from voters is directing this shift in our office,” Baker said. “This changing attitude toward marijuana is something we have been seeing anecdotally from our juries for some time.”

In 2015, Attorneys General in Oklahoma and Nebraska sued the state of Colorado for what they said was a constant flow of illegal marijuana coming across the state’s borders, citing increased law enforcement costs in border counties that were dealing with a sharp uptick in traffic stops of people transporting the drug across state lines which is considered a felony. In March of 2016, however, the Supreme Court refused to hear the Oklahoma-Nebraska suit.

Some exceptions will remain, including selling or distributing the drug without the proper authority and cases of drugged driving where possession or use results in harm to a child.

Baker also announced her office will undertake two public safety campaigns, which includes warning caregivers to keep packaged edible marijuana away from children and another campaign focusing on drugged driving, stressing that driving under the influence is still a crime.

“Voters spoke very clearly and overwhelmingly,” Baker stated, “but we need to keep the drug – like any drug – away from the kids, and driving while high is a serious crime that puts us all at risk.”

Jack Cardetti, Spokesman for New Approach Missouri, the organization that backed Constitutional Amendment 2, praised the policy change by the Prosecutor’s office.

“We wholeheartedly support the announcement today that the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office will no longer be prosecuting simple marijuana possession cases” Cardetti said. “Obviously, the announcement today goes beyond medical marijuana, but we appreciate the respect and deference Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters-Baker has shown the voters of Jackson County.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures web site, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Idaho are the only states with no public marijuana access programs.

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