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Council votes against changes to marijuana ordinance

Columbia city council members voted against changes to the city’s marijuana ordinance Monday night.

Amendments proposed lowering the penalty for people in Columbia who are caught growing two or fewer marijuana plants. The new penalty would fine the person $250 for owning the plants, the same fine for having 35 grams of marijuana or fewer. The current minimum penalty for growing marijuana is a class C felony, which carries possible prison time up to seven years.

Critics of the proposals say there would have been legal confusion over the issue. Columbia police chief Ken Burton said the state highway patrol and MU police officers would still be bound by state law to arrest anyone they caught growing marijuana.

Other critics of the changes worried they might give the perception that Columbia is legalizing marijuana and encourages people to have and grow it.

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