Springfield City Council unanimously approved new regulations Monday night banning the public consumption of marijuana in city limits.
According to a description of the proposed ordinance, the city will prohibit "marijuana smoke or odor from emanating from a nonpublic location into a public place" as well as the "consumption of marijuana in a public place or any vehicle parked in a public place."
A "public place" includes but is not limited to streets and highways, sidewalks, transportation facilities, places of amusement, parks, park properties, playgrounds, parking lots, and the common areas of public and private buildings and facilities. A private location that is visible from the public, such as a balcony, is not included in the city's definition of a "public place."
Those who publicly consume marijuana are subject up to a $100 civil penalty. Any person may perform community service instead of paying their fine.
It would also prohibit consumption of any form of the drug by an operator of a motor vehicle, and smoking of marijuana by any passengers of a motor vehicle while the vehicle is being operated. The consumption of marijuana within a motor vehicle parked in a public place is also prohibited.
The city also limits the amount of marijuana an individual can have in their possession to three ounces, exempting those approved to grow marijuana in their homes.
Any person 21 or older possesses more than three ounces of the drug could face the following civil fines:
Up to $250 fine for an initial violation
Up to $500 fine for a second violation
Up to $1,000 fine for a third or any subsequent violations
Any person may perform community service instead of paying their fine for this violation as well.
The ordinance also reestablishes that consumption of marijuana is banned for those under 21 years of age, exempting medical marijuana patients. Adolescents in violation of the ban are subject to fines not exceeding $100. The ordinance also prohibits the sale or transfer of marijuana or marijuana accessories to individuals under 21.
Councilman Abe McGull called the regulations a "good first step."
"I think this is a good approach that we've got. We're going to have to do some refinements down the road as we go along," he said.
While voting to approve the regulations, councilman Craig Hosmer said they do not go far enough — pushing his collogues to adopt a ban on open containers of marijuana.
"Recreational marijuana is going to be a big public safety issue. It's going to be a big problem with the motoring public. The states that we looked at have had more fatalities involving recreational marijuana. There has been more criminal conduct and so I think it's something we've got to be careful with and make sure that we don't put law enforcement in a bind trying to enforce laws that have been foisted on them because I think it really is going to be a problem in the future."
According to city staff who spoke with SPD Chief Paul Williams, the department is "comfortable with the proposal" and an open container ban could be difficult to enforce because many such containers are resealable and resemble containers of non-marijuana products.