When a traveling marijuana activist who goes by “420 Jim” came to Springfield, Mo., in his “CannaBus,” he didn’t feel the love.
In fact, he called the city the worst he’d been to out of more than a hundred around the country in his journey to normalize marijuana. After he was slapped with two fines, he decided to fight the city in court. And by Monday, after a year of legal stratagems on his part, both charges had been dropped.
He emerged victorious and left the city in his CannaBus.
The conflict began last November, when 420 Jim, whose real name is James Stevens, stopped in Springfield.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
He was promptly ticketed for two infractions — illegal camping and having a broken taillight on his RV, which is heavily decorated with drawings of marijuana leaves and other pro-weed markings.
“You’re holding me hostage on two tickets,” 420 Jim told Springfield City Council members, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
Rather than conceding, 420 Jim fought against the charge. The broken taillight charge was dropped, and he demanded a jury trial for the camping charge.
Though municipal charges often don’t go to a jury, defendants have the right to request them, Springfield Chief Prosecutor Carl Yendes told the News-Leader.
420 Jim created a Facebook event page, inviting residents of Springfield to his trial.
“Please come one come all and watch me stand up for my rights!” he wrote. “I was doing a petition in the afternoon in there (sic) city and was charged with Camping in public after even calling city hall three days before informing them what I was doing.”
Yenes told the News-Leader that a jury trial would be more burdensome for both parties. He added that city prosecutors would not seek jail time for 420 Jim’s alleged violation, but that penalties included up to a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail.
On Monday, as 420 Jim continued to signal that he would pursue a trial, he was back in town to meet with Yendes. Afterward, his illegal camping charge was dismissed.
“He had some additional facts and video of the situation,” Yendes told the News-Leader. He declined to go into more details as to why the charge was dropped.
420 Jim has now left the city, but he told the News-Leader it won’t be his last visit in his pursuit to strip the stigma some attach to marijuana.
“I’ll be back in Springfield, just not over the next couple days,” he said. “Hopefully the police department and city officials will treat me better next time.”