Gorilla Snacks X Irish Stout indica-hybrid 'flowers' from Sinse Cannabis. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Although marijuana has been available for purchase recreationally in Missouri since early February, it wasn’t until last week that the Springfield City Council enacted its own law limiting possession and consumption of marijuana in the city.

Springfield’s nine-member council unanimously adopted an ordinance on April 17, amending the city code to restrict marijuana consumption in a motor vehicle and in public places, as well as the possession of product and accessories by people under 21 years of age and on certain properties.

Municipalities across the state have begun adopting their own ordinances to supplement recreational marijuana provisions that are now embedded in Missouri’s constitution, following the passage of Amendment 3 in November 2022.

Under the “Local Control” provision of XIV Section 2 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, local governments are authorized to regulate “the time and place where marijuana may be smoked in public areas within the locality,” not in conflict with the amendment.

Restrictions on public — and some private — consumption

At Flora Farms medical marijuana dispensary in Springfield, an advertisement for Amendment 3 is visible on the countertop for customers. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

Similar to cities across Missouri, and states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana across the U.S., Springfield implemented restrictions on public consumption. The city defines “public place” as “any place to which the public or a substantial number of the public have access.”

The ordinance enacts a new section to the Springfield City Code under Article VI “Offenses Against Public Health and Safety,” disallowing consumption of marijuana in public places or in any vehicle parked in a public place.

Those found in violation will have the option of either paying a $100 civil penalty or performing community service hours. 

Adults 21 years of age or older who smoke in private residences, where it is otherwise legal, will have to ensure smoke or odor does not exit the nonpublic place and enter a public place, or they could be held equally accountable under Springfield’s ordinance. 

Although in a private residence, consumption in a common area of a multifamily dwelling is also banned under the ordinance.

The outright possession of marijuana and marijuana accessories is prohibited “on the grounds of any public or private preschool, elementary or secondary school, institution of higher education, in a school bus, or on the grounds of any correctional facility.”

Councilmember wants more steps taken to regulate marijuana in Springfield

Springfield Councilmember Craig Hosmer, while in support of the ordinance, indicated that he thinks additional guardrails need to be put in place regarding the consumption of marijuana in Springfield.

“I do think we need to monitor because I think medical marijuana is a big issue, but recreational marijuana is going to be a big public safety issue,” Hosmer said at the April 17 City Council meeting. “I believe it’s going to be a big problem with the motoring public.”

Hosmer said he doesn’t want to put local law enforcement in a “bind” trying to enforce these new laws, but suggested that additional measures may need to be taken to mitigate a rise in criminal conduct and traffic fatalities.

Among those measures, Hosmer advocated for exploring the possibility of a “per se” limit and an open container law for marijuana, similarly to alcohol.

Springfield Chief Litigator Chris Hoeman explained that an open container law would be difficult to enforce, since home cultivation of marijuana doesn’t require the same packaging and labeling requirements as registered facilities.

Springfield City Code reflects, adds to Amendment 3 language

A few of the concentrates sold at the Farmer’s Wife dispensary. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Some of Springfield’s new restrictions on marijuana consumption reiterate information from Amendment 3, which was adopted into XVI Section 2 of the state constitution. 

For example, both documents detail that recreational consumption and possession of marijuana and marijuana accessories is only permitted for people 21 years of age or older.

If someone under 21 is found to be in possession of marijuana in Springfield, they will face a civil penalty not to exceed $100, unless the amount in their possession is more than three ounces, in which they can be fined up to $250. In either case, drug education and counseling of four or eight hours, respectively, or community service are optional in lieu of payment.

While the constitutional amendment specifically notes that purchases of more than three ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana, or its equivalent are prohibited, the new Springfield ordinance disallows the possession of more than three ounces.

The first violation would not exceed $250, but that amount would increase to $500 for the second, and $1,000 for the third violation, with community service as an option in place of payment.

This restriction does not apply to qualified patients or primary caregivers for qualifying patients under the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, or registered cultivators who have an excess of three ounces in a locked space of a private residence.

The ordinance also bans the consumption of marijuana – in any form – as the driver or occupant of an operating motor vehicle.

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the government affairs reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. He previously covered politics and business for the Daily Citizen. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at jmcgee@sgfcitizen.org or (417) 837-3663. More by Jack McGee