What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

John Payne
On March 4, I hired Gary Wiegert, who is also a sergeant with the St. Louis Police Department, to lobby for Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, which advocates the reform of Missouri’s marijuana laws. Gary is no stranger to politics. He has long lobbied for the St. Louis Tea Party and was one of the leading opponents of Prop A (a.k.a. local control) this past fall.
However, on March 8, the police department called and told him to meet with superiors before taking any further interviews on the subject. The department must be unfamiliar with the first rule of holes — when you are in one, stop digging — because at that meeting, the brass told Gary that they were rescinding his previously approved application for secondary employment because he does not possess a business license to lobby.
I find the department’s outrage surprising, as I hired Gary mostly to lobby for a bill that would reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a fine without the possibility of arrest or jail time — which is very similar to a proposed ordinance in St. Louis that the department endorsed. Nevertheless, the department is clearly grasping at straws and violating Gary’s First Amendment rights in the process. Gary has since responded by seeking a federal injunction against the department.
Regardless of whether Gary ultimately prevails, the message to his fellow officers and citizens is crystal clear: Do not talk about reforming cannabis laws. And that makes sense. A law as clearly and irreparably flawed as the prohibition of cannabis can only be preserved by burying any discussion of it.
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