In a 12 to 1 vote, the Kansas City (Missouri) Council has sent an initiative to decriminalize marijuana to a vote of the people this April.
The vote was forced by marijuana reform advocates who collected enough signatures to put the measure before the council. The council had the option of passing it into law, or putting it to a vote of the people; they overwhelmingly chose the latter.
The initiative was put forth by the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Below is the exact question that voters will be deciding on this April:
Shall the City of Kansas City limit the authorized punishment that can be imposed in the Municipal Court for the possession or control of 35 grams or less of marijuana to a maximum $25 fine, eliminate jail as a potential punishment for the possession or control of marijuana, and remove marijuana from the prohibition against drug paraphernalia?
“We believe that people should not be incarcerated for small marijuana offenses, more than 1,000 people were arrested in Kansas City last year and that is people whose lives will be affected by these arrests for the rest of their lives,” says Jamie Kacz, Executive Director for Kansas City NORML.
Kacz notes that although “It’s not perfect”, it will “accomplish our main goal, which will be keeping people out of prison for minor marijuana offenses”.
Under current Kansas City law possessing up to 10 grams of cannabis is a misdemeanor with no possibility of jail time; however, possessing 10 to 35 grams is punishable by up to a year in jail.