This past Tuesday, voters in Kansas City went to the polls and approved a marijuana decriminalization measure with 74% of the vote. Previously, possession of up to 35 grams in the city was punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. That infraction will now result in a $25 fine, with no arrest and nothing being placed on your criminal record.
“We could not be more excited about the positive impact passing Question 5 will bring to the communities of Kansas City. We fought long and hard for this result and could not have done it without the support of our volunteers,” said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML, the group behind the measure. “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.”
The voters in Kansas City followed a trend seen increasingly around the country. “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. “We at NORML are incredibly proud of the efforts of Jamie Kacz and her team at KC NORML and thank the voters of Kansas City for bringing a new era of sanity to their law enforcement priorities and the overarching movement to end the prohibition of marijuana.”
Of course, decriminalization is a long way from legalized growing and sales, but it is a step forward and will keep thousands of KC residents out of the criminal justice system while those things are worked on. It will save police resources and result in less punishment for non-violent offenders. It will also show citizens that relaxing marijuana laws doesn’t result in stoner zombies flooding the roadways and emergency rooms.
“The passage of this initiative is not just a victory for the people of Kansas City, but for the democratic process,” said Erik Altieri, NORML’s Executive Director. “When concerned citizens stand up, stand together, and fight back against unjust laws, we will win. The overwhelming majority of Americans want to end our nation’s war on marijuana consumers and politicians across the country should take heed of the message voters sent in Missouri: if you don’t reform our marijuana laws through the legislature, we the people will do it for you.”
Politicians are usually the last ones to get that message. But every step in the direction of adult-use marijuana legalization is a positive one, and when those steps take place in the heart of the country it means that cannabis law reform is an issue that appeals to everyone, no matter what city or state they live in.