Voters in Kansas City — the largest city in Missouri and the sixth largest city in the Midwest — overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure on Tuesday to reduce the city's penalties for marijuana possession.
The Kansas City Star reports:
The measure lowers the maximum fine for marijuana possession in city court to $25 from $500 and eliminates jail time as a penalty. Under the old ordinance, a sentence of 180 days was possible.
The change applies only to cases in Kansas City Municipal Court in which defendants possessed 35 grams or less of marijuana — about 1 1/4 ounces.
The issue landed on the ballot through a petition drive led by the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Jamie Kacz, executive director of NORML KC, said residents who signed the petitions sent a message that they don’t want people jailed or fined heavily for marijuana offenses.
The ballot measure also eliminates city charges for possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia, which carried penalties of 15 days to six months in jail and fines from $100 to $500.
Late Friday afternoon, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed SB 517 — a common-sense bill that would decriminalize marijuana paraphernalia. His veto is deeply disappointing. If we can garner votes from three-fifths of the House and three-fifths of the Senate, his veto will be overridden and the measure will become law.
If you are a Maryland resident, please email your state delegate(s) and senator today and urge them to override Gov. Hogan’s veto.
The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 517 to fix the current legal absurdity that makes possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil citation (like a traffic violation), but leaves possessing the container that marijuana is in a criminal violation. Without this fix, the door is left open to selective, biased enforcement, and Maryland would continue to divert valuable law enforcement time and effort that would be better spent protecting our communities from violent crime.
An override is within reach, but won’t be easy. It is crucial lawmakers hear their constituents want them to vote “yes” on an override!
Last month, the Maryland Legislature sent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) a bill to remove the criminal penalty for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The time for Gov. Hogan to act on this bill is running out, so please email him today and encourage him to sign this reform into law.
By removing the criminal penalty for possessing marijuana paraphernalia, SB 517 will fix the current legal absurdity that makes possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil citation (like a traffic violation), but makes possessing the container that marijuana is in a criminal violation. Without this fix, the door is left open to selective, biased enforcement, which wastes law enforcement time and effort that would be better spent protecting our communities from violent crime.
On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council unanimously adopted a resolution de-prioritizing certain marijuana offenses and urging the state to decriminalize possession of marijuana paraphernalia. This is just the latest step towards humane and sensible marijuana policies in Maryland.
The county’s resolution comes on the heels of Gov. Martin O’Malley signing into law SB 364, which will impose civil fines — not criminal penalties — on possession of less than ten grams of marijuana. The law, which goes into effect October 1, did not include paraphernalia. Montgomery County’s resolution urges the state to fix that by making “adult paraphernalia possession a civil offense, no more serious than adult possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana.” It also states that simple possession of marijuana and paraphernalia should be the lowest law enforcement priority in the county. Read the full text here.
While we support the effort to include paraphernalia in Maryland’s decriminalization law, the state should go beyond that reform and follow the leads of Colorado and Washington. Colorado opened its first legal adult use marijuana stores in January, and the first adult use stores in Washington State just went live today. It’s time for Maryland to end its costly and destructive criminalization of marijuana and replace it with sensible regulations and taxation.
If you are a Maryland resident, please let your legislators know that you support adopting a system of taxation and regulation of marijuana.
What’s older than Florida’s senior population? The Florida Legislature’s mindset when it comes to marijuana.
Last Friday, the state Senate voted 31-2 in favor of a bill that would ban the sale of assorted pipes, bongs, and hookahs. House Bill 49 passed in the House days earlier by a vote of 112-3.
Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), one of the few dissenting voices in the Senate, argued that marijuana is far safer than other drugs and should be allowed under strict regulation.
The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. If signed, vendors will be criminalized, the sale of various pipes will become a first-degree misdemeanor, and any subsequent violation will jump to a third-degree felony.
Out-of-touch lawmakers don’t seem to realize that House Bill 49 will do nothing to curb marijuana use. In their quest to harass responsible marijuana users, the Florida Legislature has only harmed legitimate business people.
UPDATE: As of Nov. 7, charges against Willson Nixon have been dropped. Too bad that only seems to happen for the children of the powerful. In other news, Missouri will consider dropping marijuana charges for everyone!
ORIGINAL:In other Missouri news, college student Willson Nixon was arrested for possession of marijuana at a house party earlier this week. This happens every day in Missouri and around the country, unfortunately endangering the ability of students to continue their educations or find employment after college. Willson Nixon just happens to be the son of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
When asked about the incident, the Governor had this to say:
This is a private matter that will be handled through the municipal process. My son is a fine young man, and we will be working through this issue as a family.
It is unclear what kind of penalty Willson will pay for his youthful indiscretion, but it doesn’t sound like Dad is going to let him off the hook completely. Hopefully, this incident will remind the governor that marijuana prohibition hurts everyone, even “fine young men” like his son.
He should be thankful Willson wasn’t arrested like this:
On Friday, April 22, police at a checkpoint in Connecticut stopped Rhode Island House Minority Leader Robert Watson. Representative Watson cooperated with the police, agreeing to a Breathalyzer that resulted in a 0.05 reading (0.08 is legally impaired). During the stop, police also uncovered a small amount of marijuana and a pipe. Rep. Watson has since stated that he uses marijuana for medical purposes, but that he decided not to become a registered medical marijuana patient in Rhode Island out of confidentiality fears.
This unfortunate situation lends itself to serious contemplation of our current draconian marijuana laws. In Connecticut, as well as in Rhode Island, the possession of even a small amount of marijuana is considered a crime. Criminal convictions haunt individuals as a mark on their records, even if jail time is avoided. Many people will have a difficult time obtaining gainful employment, college admission or loans, and housing because of their record. Are these drastic results really justified for something as simple as possessing a small amount of a substance proven safer than alcohol?
Legislators in both Rhode Island and Connecticut have the opportunity this year to end the heavy-handed practice of labeling anyone a criminal for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Both states have bills pending that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, replacing the current criminal penalties with a more rational civil fine.
Finally, I would like to commend the minority leader for his subsequent bravery and honesty in addressing his entire chamber about this issue. He explained that prescription medications have caused severe side effects, and that marijuana alleviated bouts of pancreatitis, which put him into a coma for five days last November. I am glad he has found a medicine that helps alleviate his pain. Protecting patients, such as Rep. Watson, is why we worked so hard to pass Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law. Rhode Island’s law, for which Rep. Watson voted, includes protection from conviction for unregistered patients who have doctors’ recommendations, as well as protection from arrest for those who register.