Pubdate: Tue, 10 Feb 2009
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Copyright: 2009 The Kansas City Star
Author: Scott Canon
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


A tiny Joplin, Mo., suburb has rolled itself a fat one.

CLIFF VILLAGE - population 34 or 55, depending on who does the
counting - weighed in on the national debate about medical marijuana
by passing its own go-ahead earlier this month.

But before you bring your bong to town, consider that Cliff Village
has no illusion that it has become a doobie sanctuary.

This is symbolism, pure and simple," said Mayor Joe Blundell. "I would
like to be the brave one who grows the first plant, but they've built
a lot of cages for the people who stick their necks out."

Rather, his ordinance was intended to show grassroots support for a
measure that has been repeatedly introduced - and consistently doomed
- - in the Missouri General Assembly.

Like that bill, Cliff Village's ordinance allows someone with a
physician's approval to possess a few ounces of marijuana and grow a
few plants.

Even as federal agents make arrests and seizures in states where
marijuana has been made legal for the sick, the number of states
moving toward legalization has only increased.

In November, Michigan voters made their state the 13th to allow
relatively small amounts of marijuana for personal medical use. The
Cliff Village ordinance takes the same approach.

The pattern across the country is for cities to pass these things as a
resolution or some toothless statement," said Allen St. Pierre of the
National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, or NORML. "This is
usually a precursor to the state action."

San Francisco approved medical marijuana and then California. Denver
and then Colorado. Missoula and then Montana.

It's not Kansas City, (but) it still shows that people on the
community level usually want this," St. Pierre said of the Cliff
Village ordinance.

Columbia passed a similar ordinance in 2004, and not just for show.
Dan Viets, a Columbia lawyer and the Missouri coordinator for NORML,
said that the ordinance had the practical effect of "lowering the
anxiety of patients about possessing marijuana" and that police in the
college town have played along with the local law.

Cliff Village is no college town. It's barely a town at all. It has no
employees and levies no taxes. It gets about $1,300 a year in
distributions of state fuel taxes for road repairs and $120 to $200
more in cable TV franchise fees.

The 30-year-old mayor said the law came from his own frustration with
pharmaceutical painkillers to deal with the aftermath of a train
accident that left him in a wheelchair.

When I got introduced to this flower, it not only alleviated my pain,
it got me out gardening," Blundell said. "I'm not just stoning myself
out. It allowed me to function."

Although Blundell said he's not smoking dope these days - he thinks
the ordinance raises his profile too much to risk it - he wanted to
make a statement.

For his ordinance, Blundell mostly cut and pasted language from a bill
now pending in Jefferson City. The Cliff Village ordinance passed Feb.
1 by a 3-2 vote. (The mayor's father was one of the council members to
back him.) Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland, whose deputies patrol
Cliff Village, was unimpressed:

My advice would not to be run out and start growing marijuana, or
you'll be a guest of mine. As long as the law of the state says it's
illegal to possess or grow or distribute marijuana, that's the law I'm
going to enforce."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin