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Kansas City, Mo., Voters Approve $25 Fine In Easing Of Marijuana Law

06 April 2017

"Kansas City now joins the ranks of dozens of cities and states throughout the country that have ended the practice of arresting marijuana consumers", said Kevin Mahmalji, outreach coordinator for NORML. Kansas City's new maximum punishments will apply to its municipal court system. The advocates for legalization gathered for a watch party to attend the outcome.

Kacz said she thought the city would find a way to solve a problem pointed out by opponents: that without jail on the table, defendants won't get a defense attorney through Legal Aid of Western Missouri. City Manager Troy Schulte says his team has already been developing a first-year implementation plan for the first tranche, or portion, of the money.

Many also see the measure as a way to address lasting disparities in marijuana enforcement, which has disproportionately affected Kansas City's black residents.

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Canady said the unintended consequences of the measure actually hurt those who were supposed to be helped: black men who make up a disproportionate number of the defendants, many of whom now may have to pay for their own attorney to avoid a drug conviction on their record.

Kansas City now joins a growing list of cities around the country that have adopted a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level.

"This does not solve anything", Canady said.

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There are 29 states plus Washington, D.C., that have legalized marijuana, some for medicinal use and others for recreational use.

Missouri recently eliminated jail time for offenders convicted of having less than 10 grams of marijuana in their possession. Current Missouri penalties for the same amount of marijuana include possible incarceration and fines up to $500."Columbia. and St. Louis have passed similar ordinances".

"The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end, and no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana", stated Jamie Kacz, executive director of KC NORML.

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Kansas City, Mo., Voters Approve $25 Fine In Easing Of Marijuana Law