CBS St. Louis

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) – Springfield city officials say they have agreed to pay $225,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by advocates who wanted to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The settlement would release both parties from admitting fault in a controversy that began in 2012, when the advocates collected enough signatures on petitions asking the city to prohibit jail time for first- or second-time offenders caught with up to 35 grams of marijuana. Offenders would instead be subjected to fines, community service and/or drug education programs.

The city council was required by city charter to approve the proposed changes or put them to a public vote. The council approved the ordinance during one meeting then rescinded the action a few weeks later, thus avoiding a public vote.

At the time, city officials said the council passed the marijuana ordinance with the intention of amending some of…

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