The release on parole of Jeff Mizanskey, who had been serving life in Missouri prison for marijuana offenses, has stirred discussion of whether Missouri should consider further changes to sentencing laws or making marijuana legal.
Dan Viets with Show-Me Cannibis is Mizanskey’s attorney. He says there have been serious discussions of such changes, and says they will continue.
“There have been bills introduced in the Missouri General Assembly to eliminate marijuana prohibition. There will be additional bills filed in the near future,” Viets told Missourinet. “What’s very clear is there is broad, bipartisan support for marijuana law reform.”
Lieutenant Jason Grellner with the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association says Missouri policy makers aren’t ready for marijuana legalization, and neither are its residents.
“We go back three or four years to the last time there was an attempt made at a signature campaign to get it on the ballot initiative for the legalization of marijuana. Those on that side never even got close to the number necessary to get it on the ballot,” said Grellner.
Grellner said rather than reducing the length of time marijuana offenders spend in prison, Missouri should increase the effort to treat them while they’re there.
“These crimes are being committed because of the disease of addiction. We really need to come together as a society to make sure that people are able to control that disease, and what we don’t need is to legalize a drug like marijuana which is going to spread that disease faster,” said Grellner.
Viets believes few people are actually addicted to marijuana, but agrees anyone who is addicted to something should be treated.
“Certainly they should be treated. They should have treatment available as an option. They should not be threatened with prison in order to get them treatment,” said Viets.