KANSAS CITY, Mo — Mayor Quinton Lucas proposed an ordinance during Thursday’s City Council meeting that would take the crime of marijuana possession off the books in Kansas City.
The mayor believes it’s something the city can do to be more equitable and free up police to focus on other types of crimes.
“There’s a better way we can try to apply and enforce our police time in ways that are solving violent crime and those big impactful issues,” Lucas said.
“Frankly, when you look at the discriminatory and disproportionate impact that our drug laws, particularly our petty drug laws, are having on African-Americans in our community, it’s time for us to make a change.”
In 2017, nearly 75% of voters approved a ballot initiative to reduce penalties for marijuana possession. The fine was reduced to $25 for possession of 35 grams or less and it eliminated jail time.
Lucas believes the charge itself hurts people who are trying to improve their lives.
“Lots of these folks, they are applying for jobs and there’s a question as to whether you’ve ever been convicted of a drug offense,” Lucas said. “If they paid one of those $25 fines, they have to say yes.”
In 2018, Jackson County took a similar step, when Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced her office would no loner prosecute pot possession cases, with the exception of illegal sales and distribution and impaired driving.
But just because the county and city have taken these steps, does not make marijuana legal.
“This doesn’t eliminate state charges, federal charges or things like distribution and all of that,” Lucas said. “What it does, however, is to make sure that we are actually just saying, ‘Hey, this is not the same level of criminal law attention we need any more.'”
Wiping away the city charge of marijuana possession will next be taken up in committee Wednesday. Lucas hopes it’s voted on and passed before the Fourth of July.