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Victoria Babu

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Lighting up a joint may not land a pot smoker in the joint anymore in St. Louis city. 

The Board of Aldermen voted 22-3 Monday to reduce penalties for possessing small amounts of the drug.  Alderman Shane Cohn introduced the ordinance that would reduce the penalty for carrying pot to a municipal offense. That means police officers would not be required to arrests offenders, but could just issue a summons to municipal court. 

The bill, which was introduced earlier this year by Alderman Shane Cohn, also enables police to recognize patients with “valid legal prescriptions for medicinal marijuana.” State law does not recognize so-called medicinal marijuana.

Violators would typically be given a summons to appear in municipal court instead of handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. Police currently charge marijuana offenders under more harsh state laws because no local law is on the books. 

Currently under state law, first offenders who are caught with a small amount of marijuana — from a gram to 35 grams— are given a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second offense for possession of more than 35 grams is considered a felony.

The penalty for a violation of the proposed city ordinance would be a $100-$500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Officials at the Illinois Marathon in Champaign and Urbana say they will meet to talk about security ahead of their April 27 event after explosions at the Boston Marathon.

 

Jan Seeley is the race director at the Illinois Marathon. She said Monday that some runners and their relatives are already calling with concerns. She said one woman was angry with her Monday for not immediately calling off the race. Race officials plan to meet on Wednesday.

 

Seeley says it is unlikely the Illinois Marathon will be called off. But race emergency services coordinator Scott Friedlein says security measures such as bomb-sniffing dogs will be discussed.

 

The event draws as many as 20,000 runners to a series of races at different lengths. That includes about 3,000 registered for the marathon itself.

 

Iranian state TV says at least 40 people have been killed by a major earthquake near the Iran-Pakistan border.

Press TV gave no further details on the extent of damage in the sparsely populated areas. But the quake shook buildings as far away as New Delhi and Gulf cities of Dubai and Bahrain.

Iran's seismological center said the 7.5 magnitude earthquake was centered near Saravan, a sparsely populated area about 48 kilometers (26 miles) from the Pakistani border. The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of 15.2 kilometers (nine miles).

The quake struck less than a week after a 6.1 magnitude quake hit near Bushehr, on Iran's Persian Gulf coast, killing at least 37 people.

 

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