Mayor Lucas announces ordinance to lessen marijuana offenses

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Lucas addressing protestors last week. // Photo by Jim Nimmo

Mayor Quinton Lucas announced today that he will introduce an ordinance to remove possession or control of the devil’s lettuce as a violation of the City Code of Ordinance. The ordinance is sponsored by 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.

Lucas said in a press release that one of the many ways they can improve police-community relations is by eliminating laws that for too long have led to negative interactions, arrests, convictions, and disproportionate rates of incarcerated Black men and women. He added that reducing petty offenses—such as municipal marijuana offenses—reduce these negative interactions each day.

“State and federal law remain clear with marijuana,” Lucas said. “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.”

Public opinion on marijuana has shifted significantly over the past few years.

In 2017, Kansas City voted decided to decriminalize possession of 35 grams or less of the good stuff, opting for a $25 fine. The following year, Missourians voted to amend the State Constitution to allow the use of medical marijuana and its regulated growth. Parks-Shaw said that the 2018 results made it clear that voters want to see reform and that co-sponsoring this legislation is a good first step.

Black Americans are nearly four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for possession of Mary Jane, even though both groups have identical usage rates, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Removing the violation from the City Code is one of many steps taken by Lucas and the City Council to create a more equitable community.

Categories: Politics