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Meeting gets heated after KC councilman’s marijuana decriminalization ordinance rejected

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After tabling the decision last month, the Kansas City Council committee made a decision not to move forward with the proposed ordinance to decriminalize possession of 100 grams or less of marijuana.

The decision was made Wednesday morning at City Hall by the Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee.

“Part of the problem with marijuana reform is we are governed by state law as well. We, this body, can control city policy and city ordinances; we can’t control how state courts handle them," Mayor Pro Tem and 6th District Councilman Kevin McManus said.

The group, instead, decided to revise the ordinance, deleting all references of 100 grams or over.

Now, “180 days after a plea of guilty or a finding of guilty to possession or control of 35 grams or less of marijuana, such plea of guilty or finding of guilty shall be deemed withdrawn, the charge dismissed and any record expunged," Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said.

The amendment passed unanimously with no public comment.

Brandon Ellington, who created the rejected marijuana ordinance, was upset with changes and lack of action by the committee.

"I think the compromised ordinance that they pushed through was horrific," he said after the meeting. "My ordinance would have gotten rid of $25 fine and rid of admission of guilt underneath the state law."

The committee meeting got tense as dozens of advocates and supporters of Ellington's became upset with decision and lack of public comment.

“They were rude. They were disrespectful to the people and to councilman Ellington," said one woman at the meeting. "We will not continue putting up with this. We are the people, and we have a right to be heard."

The upset attendees heading straight to the mayor’s office to share their frustrations. They also visited the city clerk's office and filed ethics violations against the council members.

"We have a code of ethics that governs our behavior. In that code of ethics it states we are supposed to adhere to public’s concerns. When you have this many people who showed up to testify and deny them the ability to testify, I believe that’s being negligent in official duty," Ellington said.

The marijuana ordinance that was amended is set to go to the full city council in the future.

Four of Ellington's other ordinances were removed from the docket.

He plans to refile those ordinances, including one that would require law enforcement to have consent forms during random searches and an ordinance that would require people to report loss or stolen firearms.

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