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St. Louis Looking to Decriminalize Marijuana and Ban Employers from Firing Workers for Using Cannabis

A new bill proposed in St. Louis would take some drastic steps towards decriminalizing marijuana in the city, as well as protecting the rights of cannabis users in the workplace.

St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green introduced a bill that would ban the city from punishing people for possession of marijuana except in some extreme circumstances. Current law in the city allows the police to give a court summons for first or second offenses of marijuana possession instead of taking them to jail. Green's proposal would make that against the law.

Perhaps the more interesting part of the proposal involves marijuana rules and hiring. Green's bill would make it illegal for employers to fire a worker or refuse to hire someone for using cannabis as long as it's within the acceptable legal parameters of her proposal. Even some states with recreational marijuana don't offer protections to employees from termination even if their cannabis use is 100 percent legal. So passing such a law in St. Louis would be pretty notable.

Green cited two reasons for proposing the bill. One was that it would allow St. Louis police to focus on more important crimes and issues affecting public safety rather than enforcing silly marijuana laws. The other is that she believes this will help open a pathway to allowing marijuana legalization in the state, which would be valuable for St. Louis which is struggling with its budget.

"(Marijuana) is a $6 billion industry and rapidly growing," Green said. "It's hard to calculate, but there is, I think a huge potential for revenue generation."

Missouri is one of the few states that does not allow medical marijuana, although there is an effort to create a ballot initiative in 2018 to legalize it medicinally. As of now it's unclear if that initiative or Green's bill will pass and change the state's archaic marijuana laws.


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