Missouri state Rep. Jeremy LaFaver (D) was arrested Sunday on suspicion of possessing up to 35 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol’s arrest report cited by PoliticMo, LaFaver was pulled over for failing to respond to an earlier charge that he had operated his vehicle with expired license tags. On top of the drug charges, the arresting officer also charged him with failure to appear in court for traffic offenses.
In a statement, LaFaver, a first-term lawmaker and chairman of the Missouri House Democratic Victory Committee, apologized for the incident.
“I made a serious mistake, I apologize for it, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my behavior. I want to stress that I was not operating under the influence,” he said. “I deeply regret the embarrassment I have caused my family and the people of the 25th District by this incident. I want to assure my constituents that I have received no special considerations, nor do I expect to be treated any differently than any other citizen in my situation.”
Missouri has some of the harshest anti-pot laws in the nation. Possession of any amount of marijuana under 35 grams is punishable as a class A misdemeanor, a charge that carries up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Anything in excess of 35 grams becomes a felony, punishable by at least seven years in jail and a fine of $5,000 or more.
Lawmakers in Missouri sought to scale back the severity of these punishments in the last legislative session. According to the Springfield News-Leader, LaFaver co-sponsored House Bill 512, which would have made possession of small amounts of marijuana a non-arrestable offense. It didn't pass.
Marijuana law reformers have seen greater success in the city of St. Louis, which enacted a new ordinance this year decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of pot. The new measure has reduced the penalty for possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana, dropping it from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction in most cases.