KC police chief clears up confusion about marijuana use after Amendment 2 passes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There's still confusion among some people about Amendment 2, which passed in November, allowing medical marijuana use in Missouri.

KCPD Chief Rick Smith weighed in on the issue, saying his department will continue to enforce the laws of the state when it comes to illegal drug activity.

Although the rule book is still being written about who can use marijuana and how they get it, one thing has not changed: Recreational use is still illegal in Missouri.

"We have gotten a lot of inquiries lately about marijuana, medical marijuana, legalization, possession, all of these types of things," Sgt. Jake Becchina said.

Those questions prompted Smith to clear up any misconceptions about the legalization of marijuana in his monthly blog.

It's still illegal to possess marijuana unless you have a prescription from your doctor.

"The vast majority that do not have prescribed marijuana -- all of the same rules apply,” Becchina said. “Thirty-five grams or less is a misdemeanor charge in the city of Kansas City, which will be referred to a city prosecutor. Above 35 grams can be considered for a state of felony charge."

After Amendment 2 passed, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced that she will no longer be prosecuting marijuana possession cases.

"That mandate from voters is directing this shift in our office," Peters Baker said in a news release three weeks ago. "This changing attitude toward marijuana is something we have been seeing anecdotally from our juries for some time."

Peters Baker will continue prosecuting distribution cases, incidents of impaired driving due to the drug and in cases where marijuana possession results in the harming of a child.

Becchina said, regardless, KCPD will continue to submit cases to the county prosecutor and the city prosecutor if they fit the criteria. The amount, the intent for distribution -- all of those things are taken into account when a case is submitted for any drug possession.

"We are one part of the criminal justice system,” Becchina said. “We are the enforcement part, and that is what we have taken an oath to do and are sworn to do. And we will continue to do that without any thought of frustration or anything like that. That is the only thing we can control, so that is what we focus on."

Kansas City Prosecutor Cecilia Abbott issued the following statement:

"The City will continue to prosecute cases presented to us per our city ordinance. Those cases will be based upon recreational use, not medical use. As always, charging decisions are based on the evidence and information presented to the City Prosecutor."