Prairie Village considering decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Some marijuana laws in one Johnson County, Kansas, suburb may fade into smoke.

City leaders in Prairie Village are considering decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis, an effort to mirror laws in nearby communities.

Members of Prairie Village’s city council have suggested taking penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana off the books. Similar moves have already been made in Wichita, Lawrence and neighboring Kansas City, Missouri.

Tim Schwartzkopf, assistant city administrator, was Prairie Village’s chief of police until late 2020. Now, he works closely with the city council.

Schwartzkopf said council members have stated possession laws unfairly affect people of lower incomes. As it stands, first-time offenders in Prairie Village typically receive a small fine or enter into a diversionary agreement.

“They reference attitudes are changing about the use of marijuana in our country. They also outline some of the impact of marijuana possession and minorities,” Schwartzkopf said.

Cannabis dispensaries in nearby Missouri aren’t permitted to sell to customers from out of state.

Jonathan Lewis, who operates MoGro Solutions, a Missouri-based cannabis consultancy, said he’s certain there are patients in Prairie Village who could benefit from this. Lewis, a military veteran, said he experiences daily pain from use of a prosthetic leg and legally prescribed cannabis provides relief.

“This isn’t a Cheech and Chong movie,” Lewis said. “That decriminalization would allow us the access to get the true medicine all of us need as patients. That’s my main concern. We’re patients. We’re not in the same old Reefer Madness stigma we were 50 or 60 years ago.”

In Kansas City, Mayor Quinton Lucas pushed for decriminalization of marijuana in late 2020. Lucas said many of the laws were used to target people of color, and eliminating them from the books has allowed police to concentrate on violent crime.

“It’s time we stop fighting a war on drugs of the 1980’s where marijuana is a significant problem and, in many ways, I think society has moved on,” Lucas said Tuesday.

Schwartzkopf said this matter will be up for public discussion. He believes the city council will hear more in a mid-February meeting.

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