Pubdate: Tue, 29 Apr 2014
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR)
Copyright: 2014 Associated Press
Note: Accepts letters to the editor from Arkansas residents only


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Springfield officials said they have reached 
an agreement in a lawsuit filed by groups trying to decriminalize 
possession of small amounts of marijuana.

However, neither side is disclosing the terms of the settlement until 
it is signed by all interested parties. The details are likely to be 
revealed in the next few weeks, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

City Attorney Dan Wichmer said the City Council approved the 
settlement during a closed session April 15. All court proceedings in 
the lawsuit were put on hold April 17.

The agreement comes after more than a year of contention, which began 
when the City Council was asked to allow a public vote on a 2012 
petition that would have prohibited jail time for first-or 
second-time offenders caught with up to 35 grams of marijuana. 
Offenders would instead be subjected to fines, community service 
and/or drug education programs.

Local organizer Maranda Reynolds had gathered enough signatures on 
the petition to force action by the City Council. The council was 
required to either approve the ordinance or put it to a public vote. 
The council voted in September 2012 to pass the ordinance, then 
repealed it two weeks later, which avoided a public vote.

The lawsuit was filed by Reynolds and the nonprofit groups Show-Me 
Cannabis Regulation and American Victory Coalition. They claimed the 
council's action might be technically legal but called it "an illegal 
attempt to circumvent the intent" of the city charter. The lawsuit 
also contended that council members "cannot do indirectly what [they] 
are forbidden from doing directly."

Wichmer said he expected the settlement to be made final in about 20 days.
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