Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas – along with Third District At-Large Councilman Brandon Ellington, Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, Fifth District At-Large Councilman Lee Barnes and Fifth District Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw – today will introduce an ordinance to remove possession or control of marijuana as a violation of the City Code of Ordinances.
One of the ways we improve police-community relations is by eliminating laws that for too long have led to negative interactions, arrests, convictions, and disproportionate rates of incarceration of Black men and Black women,” said Mayor Lucas. “Reducing petty offenses – such as municipal marijuana offenses – reduce these negative interactions each day.”
“State and federal law remain clear with marijuana,” continued Mayor Lucas. “The City doesn’t need to be in that business; instead, we remain focused on how we can help open doors to new opportunities and empower people to make a decent living. I appreciate Councilmembers Ellington, Robinson, Barnes and Parks-Shaw’s partnership in this important work.”
“In 2018 voters overwhelmingly showed their support for medicinal marijuana, making it clear that they want to see reform,” said Fifth District Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw. “Co-sponsoring this legislation is a good first step.”
Public opinion and laws surrounding marijuana usage have changed dramatically in recent years: in 2017, Kansas City voters decided by a 75/25 percent margin to decriminalize possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, imposing instead a $25 fine; and in 2018, Missourians voted to amend the State Constitution to permit the use of medical marijuana and its regulated growth.
Still, Black Americans are nearly four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession despite roughly equal usage rates, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Removing this violation from the City Code is one of many steps taken by Mayor Lucas and the City Council to create a more equitable community for all Kansas Citians. Earlier this year, Mayor Lucas launched a Marijuana Pardon Program for non-violent, low-level municipal marijuana and paraphernalia offenses.