Wichita Decriminalizes Marijuana

   

Wichita sent shockwaves (I couldn’t resist, Go Shockers!) across Kansas, decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana on Tuesday. Despite threats from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt who called the proposal unconstitutional and threatened to sue the city if the law passed.  In a conservative state like Kansas, change at the city level can only help move the state forward on sensible cannabis law reform. The decrim measure garnered 54% of the vote. From Kansas.com:

The major provision of the ballot initiative was to reduce the punishment for a first-time marijuana conviction to a $50 fine. Violations would be an infraction that wouldn’t have to be disclosed on most job and college scholarship applications.

Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, attended an Election Night party with the measure’s supporters and said she hopes the win in Wichita will send a message to the capital for the state to ease up on marijuana.

Finney, who has undergone chemotherapy for lupus, has for years pushed the Legislature for a bill allowing medical marijuana. So far, that bill has yet to advance out of a committee.

But she said she’s hopeful this year will bring action on two other bills – one that would reduce marijuana penalties to clear prison beds, and another that would allow seizure sufferers to be treated with hemp oil derived from marijuana.

I am very grateful for the efforts of the activists who fought for this local reform. These local victories, not only help their respective states, but also keep the momentum moving forward for marijuana law reform across the country. I know firsthand, and many other activists know even better than me, that gathering signatures and campaigning for marijuana law reform in the Midwest can be a daunting experience as the stigma still surrounding marijuana can still cause rifts with activists’ friends, family, colleagues and employers. Thank you Wichita, for continuing to demonstrate that ending cannabis prohibition is a mainstream political issue all across the country.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.