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Advocates say Reefer Madness for Kansas City has come to an end:
First of all, the majority of voters in Kansas City voted to eliminate jail time for Marijuana possession. People caught with small amounts of marijuana or related paraphernalia will not get jail time. Furthermore, 75 percent of voters were in favor of the initiative. As a result, Kansas City strongly supported doing away with the existing law. Currently, possession of 35 grams of marijuana can get you 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. Under the new law, people caught with small amounts of marijuana will have to pay a $25 fine and court fees. In addition, the new law removes criminal penalties. But defendants with marijuana possession will end up with drug charges on their records.
A Victory in Kansas:
In Kansas City marijuana advocates helped accumulate signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. The marijuana advocates hailed the vote as a victory in Kansas. Consequently, the reefer madness era in Kansas City has come to a halt. Law abiding citizens won’t have to worry about marijuana possession. People will not be arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In addition, people see the new law as a way to address lasting inequalities in marijuana enforcement. Marijuana discrepancies have affected Kansas City and its black residents.
70% of all Marijuana defendants were Black:
Most noteworthy, the city had a program to divert many low-level marijuana offenders away from jail time. In addition, one thousand people were arrested for marijuana. Half of the people arrested for small amounts of marijuana were under the age of 28. Especially relevant, in Kansas City 70 percent of all marijuana defendants were black. According to a report by the Kansas City Star 30 percent of city residents are black. Hence, in Kansas City people of all races use the drug at about the same rate. Therefore, blacks are being singled out for jail time.
The New Law could have Consequences:
Most of all, people worry about the new law. The new law has consequences. Traditionally, people use Legal Aid if booked for having small amounts of marijuana. Legal Aid is a group that provides free legal counsel to defendants who face jail time for marijuana possession. With jail time eliminated they are not eligible for a free defense. Consequently, people hope the city will adjust its contract with Legal Aid to go along with the new arrangement.
Following the Trend:
Kansas City has followed a trend of marijuana reform at the state and local level. Cities like St. Louise are following suit. In Missouri a new law took effect this year. In conclusion, the law removed the threat of jail time for marijuana possession. Marijuana offenders will get no jail time. Marijuana Prohibition is coming to an end.