City council members in Kansas City, Missouri, voted on July 9, 2020 to approve an ordinance that would remove all penalties for the possession or control of marijuana as a violation within the city.
The ordinance, introduced in mid-June by Missouri’s Mayor Quinton Lucas and four City Council members, passed by a 9-4 vote, reported KMBC, a local ABC affiliate.
Lucas, who has previously said he planned to pursue efforts to remove other “minor drug offenses from our code,” celebrated the measure’s passage.
“One of the ways we improve police-community relations is by eliminating laws that for too long have led to negative interactions, arrests, convictions, and disproportionate rates of incarceration of Black men and Black women,” the mayor told KMBC. “Reducing petty offenses – such as municipal marijuana offenses – reduce these negative interactions each day.”
In Lucas’ ordinance to remove marijuana from the City Code, the mayor’s office noted that public opinion surrounding cannabis usage has changed dramatically recently.
Nearly 75% of Kansas City voters approved a ballot initiative to reduce penalties for marijuana possession and decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in 2017.
Missouri voters then approved the use of medical marijuana in 2018, clearing the way for additional reform.
The mayor’s office cited an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report that Black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts despite roughly equal usage rates.
“Removing this violation from the City Code is one of several steps taken by Mayor Lucas and the City Council to create a more equitable community for all Kansas Citians,” reads the ordinance.
Earlier this year, Mayor Lucas launched a Marijuana Pardon Program for non-violent, low-level municipal marijuana and paraphernalia offenses.
“There’s a better way we can try to apply and enforce our police time in ways that are solving violent crime and those big impactful issues,” Lucas previously told WDAF.