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Rolla City Councilman Resigns Over Marijuana Conviction

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio
Daniel Jones, an outspoken proponent of cannabis, resigned from the Rolla City Council.

Daniel Jones said he is right and the law is wrong.

But ultimately, he didn’t think he would win a legal battle to keep his seat on the Rolla City Council.

He resigned Thursday night, on the eve of a hearing to determine whether he could continue to hold public office.

Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox filed a petition against Jones saying his 2012 guilty plea to a felony cannabis possession charge made him ineligible to hold public office. Felons are not allowed to hold office in the state. The filing was in response to a complaint from local retired pastor Tim Cook.

Jones hired a lawyer and vowed to fight the move. But now he’s given up that effort.

“The facts were with them. The case was there,” Jones said Friday. “I did get arrested; I did get busted for having a lot of cannabis and for distribution of cannabis, which, to this day, I’ll tell you I don’t consider a crime.”

Jones said that while he believes the law on marijuana possession and use is unjust, and removing him from office over it isn’t right, he doesn’t have the money to challenge it through the appeals process.

“The cheapest route that I could see going forward would have been $15,000 to $20,000,” Jones said. “I’m not comfortable asking anybody to pay that, much less myself and my family.”

Jones’ conviction was not a secret. It was public knowledge, and Jones talked about it leading up to his April 2018 election. 

The complaint came after Jones took vocal positions on making medical marijuana more accessible in Rolla, and asked the city to examine decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot. 

“There are people who are very angry this went down the way it did, and there are others who are very happy,” Jones said. “Everyone has had their say. It’s over and time to move on.”

Jones said he uses marijuana to treat PTSD and other disorders. He plans to continue his advocacy to make recreational marijuana legal and medical marijuana easily available in Missouri. He also plans to start a chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Rolla.

Rolla Mayor Lou Magdits will appoint an interim council member to complete Jones’ two-year term.

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Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.