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Kansas City Lawmakers Vote To Remove All Local Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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The Kansas City, Missouri City Council voted on Thursday to approve an ordinance ending all penalties for marijuana possession under the municipality’s local laws.

Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) and four local lawmakers filed the cannabis measure last month, which repeals a provision of the Code of Ordinances stipulating that possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana carries a $25 fine and more than 35 grams is punishable by a $500 fine.

The vote to approve the proposal was 9-4.

Lucas, who has previously said he plans to pursue efforts to remove other “minor drug offenses from our code,” celebrated the measure’s passage.

“The City doesn’t need to be in the marijuana policing business—and we remain focused on helping open doors to new opportunities & empowering people to make a decent living,” he said on Twitter.

Text of the measure, which does not change Missouri state laws that continue to criminalize cannabis for non-medical use, describes racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests and states that the Council “believes future resources should be focused on the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of violent crime in Kansas City.”

In 2018, Missouri voters approved a statewide initiative establishing a medical cannabis market.

The year prior to the medical marijuana vote, Kansas City residents overwhelmingly approved a local ballot measure to decriminalize possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis.

In February, Lucas announced a pardon program for those with previous convictions for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia.

A campaign to legalize marijuana for adult use in Missouri ended in April due to complications from the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor isn’t singularly focused on marijuana. He introduced a separate resolution calling on the city manager to review all ordinances in the code that “that have led to negative interactions, arrest, conviction, and incarceration of black men and black women in disproportionately high numbers.” That includes “those covering minor drug offenses.”

“I’ll be clear. We should remove any marijuana or minor drug offenses from our code,” he said.

Read the new Kansas City marijuana ordinance below: 

Marijuana Ordinance Kansas … by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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