The ordinance reduces the penalty for possession of up to an ounce and a quarter of pot to a maximum $150 fine. It also requires the council to create an oversight committee to monitor the ordinance and it allows violators to have their records expunged after two years.
The vote came after the city attorney told the council the city has no authority to expunge records under state law. The city attorney also said an initiative ordinance cannot require the city to form an oversight committee.
Council members said they voted for the ordinance mainly to avoid the $180,000 cost of putting it to the voters and that they would work to fix what they saw as problems with it.
"It doesn't do what the petitioners want; it just fouls up the system," Councilman John Rush complained.
It isn't clear exactly what changes the council has in mind. One councilman, Tom Bieker, said he wants to amend it "to the extent we are comfortable with," while Mayor Robert Stephens said the council might try to "correct the faulty areas."
The council will present possible amendments for consideration as part of an emergency bill when it meets on September 10. But in the meantime, Springfield has decriminalized marijuana possession.