January 20, 2016

Kansas Lawmakers Are Considering Lowering Marijuana Possession Penalties

January 20, 2016
kansas colorado marijuana attorney general derek schmidt
kansas colorado marijuana attorney general derek schmidt
(image via Wikipedia)

In most states getting caught with marijuana is FAR more harmful than consuming marijuana. That used to be true of every state, but more and more states are legalizing marijuana, thank goodness. Kansas is a state in which marijuana is still very much illegal. Kansas’ largest city, Wichita, voted to decriminalize marijuana in April of last year. Whereas state law carries a possession penalty of a $2,500 fine and a year in jail, Wichita wants to hand out a $50 fine for the first offense.

Kansas’ Attorney General took the City of Wichita to court in an attempt to void the successful vote by Wichita voters, and in September of last year the Kansas Supreme heard arguments in he case. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a decision on it yet (please let me know if that’s not the case). In the meantime, the City of  Wichita has agreed to not implement the measure until the court rules on the matter. Case law suggests that the measure will be stricken down, unfortunately.

Kansas’ Legislature is currently considering a bill that wouldn’t decriminalize marijuana possession, but it would cut the penalties in half. Per KMBC:

The Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee was meeting Wednesday for the first of two days of hearings on the marijuana legislation. The panel was taking testimony from supporters first and hearing from opponents Thursday.

The House approved the bill last year.

The measure would decrease the maximum penalties for first-time, misdemeanor marijuana possession to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine from a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A second possession conviction would no longer be a felony.

This bill of course doesn’t go far enough. Those caught with marijuana will still be heavily fined, will still be locked in a cage, and will still be given the ‘marijuana scarlet letter.’ This bill is a step in the right direction, but I hope that the State of Kansas does better than this sooner than later.

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