KS Supreme Court Voids Successful Wichita Marijuana Decriminalization

The voters of Wichita, Kansas voted to decriminalize personal marijuana possession in April 2015.
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Kansas law considers simple marijuana possession to be a misdemeanor, punishable by a year in a jail and a $2,500 fine. The initiative in Wichita made first time simple possession an infraction, punishable by just a $50 ticket. Even before the vote was held, Kansas’ Attorney General said he would challenge it if it passed. The initiative passed, and the promised legal challenge followed. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on the matter this last week, and voided the will of the voters due to a technicality. Per Kansas.Com:

A voter-approved ballot initiative lessening marijuana penalties in Wichita was struck down Friday by the Kansas Supreme Court on a technicality.

The court did not address the state’s argument that the proposal conflicted with state marijuana possession laws. Instead, it decided that petitioners did not follow state law in filing the proposed ordinance with the city clerk.

“If the only way they can beat us is on a technicality, it really says something about their argument,” said Esau Freeman, one of the organizers for Marijuana Reform Initiative-ICT, which organized the ballot petition.

This is a very sad thing. Clearly the voters of Wichita wanted decriminalization, but instead they get to live in a state that believes putting people in a case for possessing a joint is OK. Kansas’ Legislature is considering lowering the penalty statewide for simple marijuana possession, but even still it would just reduce the fine and cut the jail time in half. That’s obviously still very unjust. Kansas deserves better.

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