Local groups debate marijuana use, legalization

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Pot, weed, Mary Jane, marijuana or cannabis: whatever you call it, it's illegal in the state of Missouri.

"You're looking at one to six months in jail or a $500 fine," said Jalilah Otto from the Jackson County Prosecutor's office.

Metropolitan Community College hosted a forum on Saturday at its Penn Valley campus to inform participants of the far-reaching "real world" effects of using and selling marijuana.

"In a very short order, at a very young age, you just watch people change their lives: ruin their lives, ruin their families' lives," Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said.

"Show Me Cannabis Supporters" also held a forum on Saturday. Their mission is to decriminalize cannabis.

"People are under the misconception that if someone uses a drug, that they are going to be violent, and that's just not true," said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "It's the policy of prohibition that makes our community violent," Franklin added. "These drug dealers fight each other for real estate."

Franklin worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years. Now he's on a mission to save lives by defunding the illegal drug trade.

"Seventy percent of those murders out there on the streets are somehow related to the illicit drug trade, not the people using drug," Franklin said.  "You eliminate that trade, just like we did in 1933 when we ended alcohol prohibition, and we'll see a whole lot less violent crime in the streets."

It's a controversial solution to a growing problem that impacts people all over the country.

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