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Springfield council repeals marijuana ordinance, encourages public participation

September 24, 2012|By Melody Pettit | mpettit@kspr.com

(SPRINGFIELD, Mo) — It was expected to happen and it did, Springfield's City Council made a final decision tonight about a controversial marijuana ordinance.

Four council members had publicly called for a repeal of the ordinance that lessens the penalties for marijuana possession.

Monday night the City Council repealed the marijuana ordinance, seven to two.

This issue drew dozens of people and protesters to the last city council meeting.

City officials have seen a lot of that lately. Recent hot topics have brought record numbers to meetings.

Something city officials hope will continue.

Monday’s city council meeting was Zack Kiser's first Springfield city council meeting. They're not usually his idea of a good time.

“They are a little slow and little dull,” said Kiser.

But he came to Monday’s meeting because recently they’ve been anything but dull with overcrowded rooms, protesters--lots of protesters, thousands of emails to city council members and heated debates.

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“People my age don't have the typical motivation to get out and make the changes they want to see happen,” Kiser said.

Maranda Reynolds started the marijuana petition. While disappointed the ordinance was repealed she says she succeeded in a way, by getting people like Kiser interested enough to show up.

“We've gotten a lot of young people to go to a city council meeting for the first time and that's something we’ve never done before,” said Reynolds.

“Normally we fill half of the chambers, but we've been packing the house for a few months now,” said Springfield’s Public Information Officer, Cora Scott.

Between the tweets and the live webcast, Scott loves all the attention the city council has gotten recently, even if some of it has been negative.

“I think it's a great situation and I love having the chatter and conversation,” Scott said.

Those conversations have broken records; 500 people attended the sexual orientation ordinance meeting in early August, the largest crowds the City has seen.

“The meetings last longer but I’m delighted to have them. This is their City,” said Mayor Bob Stephens.

While all the attention has caused some problems for the city, they hope people's excitement stays even if the hot topics don't.

“An engaged community is a healthy community,” said Scott.

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