Kansas City Council liberalizes marijuana possession, but state opposes it

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Kansas City Council liberalizes marijuana possession, but state opposes it

The Wichita City Council recently liberalized marijuana possession within city limits, making the largest city in Kansas the least restrictive on cannabis possession statewide.

The measure is intended to reduce the number of arrests and prosecutions of marijuana users without legalizing them. The city will no longer prosecute cannabis cases starting Friday, according to The Wichita Eagle.

While Wichita police could still arrest people for possession of cannabis or use it as a reason to search their property, criminal charges would have to be filed by Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett.

Attorney general candidate Kris Kobach wants to keep it illegal, and he wants to keep it that way.

The GOP official recently said that the Wichita City Council's recent move sends a message that, well, marijuana is OK, but it is not the message I want to send to my kids. Kobach's Democratic opponent, AG candidate Chris Mann, was not very fond of the council's move. He said lawmakers need to address the issue statewide, not locally.

I don't think that a patchwork of local rules is going to be helpful because it just moves the problem from municipal court to district court, Mann said. If there is going to be one, I think we need to have a statewide solution. On Thursday, the two candidates crossed paths as they attended their first one-on-one forum hosted by the Wichita Metro Crime Commission.

While they agreed on the issue of marijuana legalization, the two Kansas officials have opposing views on medical cannabis, given that Kansas is one of the few states that does not have a comprehensive MMJ law.

Kobach's anti-legalization stance is based on the fear that medical access to cannabis would be automatically abused. He is staunchly opposed to it because then you end up legalizing something that becomes Pandora's box because no state that allows medical marijuana has been able to confine it to purely medical cases. Mann would prefer well-regulated medical marijuana at the state level. The Legislature hasn't decided to do that yet, but we need to put up safeguards if they are to decide to do that, Mann said. We need to make sure that we're protecting vulnerable populations and our children. We need more drug addiction help, and we need money to go to law enforcement. Governor Laura Kelly D continues to push for policy reform. Kelly D signed legislation that allows Kansans to obtain prescription medications derived from cannabis-related products.

Kelly said in Louisburg after an event celebrating a highway expansion, it's a good place to start as MMJ legalizaition is a good place to start. Get that infrastructure built so that we can regulate it the way that needs to be regulated, and make sure that we implement it in a way that's productive.