Missouri chapters of the pro-legalization group the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are busy collecting signatures for a petition to decriminalize the cultivation of cannabis in the city of Columbia.

The success of said petition would institute a new ordinance making the act of cultivating cannabis a civil offense, which would result in those that are caught having to pay a fine, as opposed to the current punishment of 5-15 years of prison time.

Josh Chittum, president of the Mid-Missouri NORML chapter, believes such a law would help decrease drug-related crime.

Here’s what Chittum had to say:

The fact is the American public is just tired of seeing their friends, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, what have you, being put in a cage over a plant that we know is nontoxic and ultimately not near as harmful as some of the scare tactics we were fed.

Dan Viets, a lawyer in Columbia, Missouri and Missouri NORML board member, claims he works for a number of clients busted for growing marijuana and doesn’t feel folks should be penalized to the current degree in which they are for cultivating small numbers of plants that are intended for personal consumption.

Here’s what Viets had to say:

They face the prospect of becoming felons for the rest of their lives and losing a lot of options in life…..right now the law provides an incentive for people to patronize drug dealers instead of just growing a little garden themselves. It makes no sense.

We couldn’t agree more.

Good luck, Missourians.