A Missouri politician who tried to lower the state’s penalties for minor marijuana possession was arrested and charged with minor marijuana possession Aug. 24, according to The Associated Press.

Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, Democrat of Kansas City, was stopped for failing to respond to a charge of driving with an expired tag and driving without insurance, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. During the stop, the state patrol cited LaFaver for possession of a marijuana pipe and less than 35 grams of weed.

That would constitute a misdemeanor under Missouri state law, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine, were LaFaver found guilty.

Rep. Jeremy LaFaver’s Fight

LaFaver fought this year for legislation that would have reduced those penalties in many cases, essentially decriminalizing simple possession. Though possession of 35 grams or less would have remained a misdemeanor, it would have been punishable by no more than a $250 fine.

LaFever’s legislation also would have instructed police to issue court summonses for minor possession cases rather than arresting people. But the Missouri Legislature is dominated by Republicans, and the bill never made it out of committee in the House.

LaFaver, 33, first won his seat in the House in November. Before that he worked as a lobbyist for children’s advocacy groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.

He released a statement calling the incident a “serious mistake.” He wasn’t driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he was pulled over, he said.Police Officer - Eye Coordination

“I want to assure my constituents that I have received no special considerations, nor do I expect to be treated any differently than any other citizen in my situation,” he said.

Shortly after his release on $125 bail, LaFaver resigned from the House Democratic Victory Committee, a group that raises money for Democratic state House candidates. Despite calls by Republicans for his resignation from the House, he told The Associated Press he wouldn’t step down.

Marijuana Possession Charges on Politicians

Arrests of state lawmakers on pot charges are getting to be more common these days. And they happen on both sides of the cannabis aisle, among advocates and opponents.

In New York State in March, Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz was charged with pot possession after a stop on the freeway. Katz had voted against medical marijuana when it came before the Legislature. Last year, GOP Rhode Island Rep. Bob Watson chalked up his second arrest for alleged marijuana possession.


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