Public invited to Board of Health meeting on marijuana ordinance

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 | 3:35 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Members of the public are invited to speak at a Board of Health and Substance Abuse Advisory Commission meeting Thursday night regarding local activist and attorney Dan Viets' proposed amendment to city ordinances.

The amendment would reduce penalties for anyone growing marijuana and expand access for medical patients by decriminalizing the cultivation of up to six plants. Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe is sponsoring the amendment.

Five City Council members voted to table the amendment in April after Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala expressed concern about the possible controversy related to the amendment and suggested it be referred to expert boards and commissions, citing specifically the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission and the Board of Health

"The Council will not vote before August," Viets said. "I hope they will wait until September or October."

Thursday meeting will focus on how the amendment relates to marijuana. Although Public Health and Human Services Director Stephanie Browning is not sure what specific topics regarding the ordinance will be discussed at the meeting, she said the Disabilities Commission and the Human Rights Commission were also asked by council to provide input.

"Traditionally, boards and commissions are asked to give recommendations," Browning said. "Tomorrow they will be seeking public comment."

The meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and will be held at the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services at 1005 W. Worley St.  

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