wichita kansas marijuana
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Wichita, Kansas, Votes On Marijuana Decriminalization Next Month

wichita kansas marijuanaI have long been a fan of local marijuana reform efforts. They are obviously not as good as a statewide reform victory, but a lot of local victories can add up. I always say that if you can’t win at the state level, focus your energy towards local efforts. Local victories show the rest of the state that there is more support for marijuana reform than some people think in the state. It helps build momentum towards an eventual state-level victory.

Next month citizens of Wichita, Kansas will get the chance to vote to decriminalize marijuana. The vote, which occurs on April 7th, will give people the chance to vote on marijuana reform in a state that has long been considered off limits to such efforts. A victory in Kansas, even if it’s just one city, would send a message to the rest of America, and would be extremely significant, as Anthony Johnson points out on MarijuanaPolitics.Com:

Wichita successfully decriminalizing this year will have positive repercussions not only across Kansas, but across the Midwest and even the South as more conservative states with local initiative power could be motivated to move forward with sensible reforms. While many cannabis law reform advocates and even many in the general population, feel that legalization is inevitable and the nation is ready for change, marijuana doesn’t legalize or even decriminalize itself. Many advocates have to put in long hours and prohibitionists don’t sit idly by, they will continue to trot out old, debunked Reefer Madness propaganda about marijuana decriminalization leading to an increased number of heroin addicts or even Reefer Madness 2.0 claims about “Big Marijuana” pushing marketing marijuana to children.

The Wichita measure, while a sensible, pragmatic step forward that many see as common sense, certainly isn’t a slam dunk on a special April electoral ballot in Kansas. The very first marijuana law reform measure I worked on was on the ballot in Columbia, Missouri, on April 8, 2003. The Columbia Daily Tribune headline was, “Voters smoke pot proposal,” as a measure that would have decriminalized under 35 grams for all adults and allowed medical patients to legally possess the personal amount garnered around 42% of the vote. The following year, in a November presidential election, decriminalization and medicinal use passed with 61% & 69% respectively as the Tribune’s headline now read, “Marijuana measures pass handily.” While voters attitudes across the nation have improved dramatically since 2003, I am still concerned about the prospects for Wichita’s measure if advocates across the nation aren’t motivated to help.

Voter turnout is the key to the Wichita decriminalization measure. If just the usual voters turnout, the proposal could very well lose. However, if voter turnout is increased and younger voters send in their ballots, then the marijuana movement can achieve an important victory that can have a big impact on people’s lives, especially students in Wichita State who can lose their financial aid because of a misdemeanor conviction or those looking for a job or already on probation or parole. Cannabis community, let’s help these advocates in Wichita, which in turn helps us and other advocates across the country. If you are able, please donate to Kansas for Change and please spread the word.

If passed, the decriminalization ordinance would apply to possession of 32 grams or less of cannabis, and would result in just a $50 fine. The ordinance would also apply to paraphernalia. Currently, possession of a personal amount of marijuana or paraphernalia in Kansas is a misdemeanor punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail. The offense, from a penalty perspective, is the equivalent to assaulting a police officer. That is clearly unacceptable.

  • don

    We want change in Canada as well. It is long past due. I have also created this pro cannabis t-shirt. Check it out and wear one with me. teespring.com/legalizecannabis It works on both sides of the border!

    • tanner

      Hay I am a science protagonist from St John ks I whole like to inform all my fellow Activests about the foot in the door glitch in the human mind. .. if u start with small favors and small steps the help owe cause then it makes it much much easier for the rednecks to accept the larger changes….. this tactic was used by the Chinese to convents US solders to share secrets and Evan defect to China

    • tanner

      Hay I am a science protagonist from St John ks I whole like to inform all my fellow Activests about the foot in the door glitch in the human mind. .. if u start with small favors and small steps the help owe cause then it makes it much much easier for the rednecks to accept the larger changes….. this tactic was used by the Chinese to convents US solders to share secrets and Evan defect to China

  • Whyiowa4medical

    Don, where are you in Canada??? I thought that medical cannabis was legal in Canada as well as green hotels and Bed-and-Breakfast establishments from Vancouver through the Yukon. I applied as a grower in Aylmyra, Ontario and Winnepeg, MB as well as one in BC. They were all hiring for a future date, do you mean to tell me Canada has no laws supporting the sizable operations I have seen??? Did I waste my time? I have a friend who smokes with impunity in B.C. and makes films doing the same. Not like that “Spongebong Stonedpants” illiterate parody High Times released, but quality films!!! One tends to forget that your province system gives each large area the power more fitting a country, than a state. I have seen nothing out of Saskatchewan nor Newfoundland, but I have applied for cannabis work in the remaining southern provinces. Tell us more as this could directly affect many looking to Canada for work!!! Not to mention freedom!!!

  • Whyiowa4medical

    Sorry I side tracked to the Canada issue, but in Kansas the Baptist Churches will come out in droves and demonize the entire issue. It is much like I fought in a local ordinance I was ready to fight for here in Iowa. A “home rule” provision to undercut our governors zero tolerance crap. He would rather put a dime on gas taxes hurting everyone, than tax cannabis at that same dime. All the years I have been watching this issue and fighting, we have promised them taxation!!! The only issue I can see with taxation is Oregon’s no retail taxation laws. I support them, but in 2016 there may be a better chance; but as for now I live in “NO WAY” Iowa.

  • Chris

    It should be noted that this will only cover the first offense.

    • underdoglet

      Indeed, the result of a compromise with the Wichita City Council. Remember, this is Kansas. The work with the 2 petitions has forced the discussion. 2 days after the city voted it on the ballot, a Wichita pastor on the KS Sentencing Commission introduced a bill in the KS Legislature (with no opposition in the committee) to de-felonize the first two marijuana possession offenses. The support we have received has helped give some in authority the political courage to step up and act. Winning the election would help even more. Thanks for your support of this incremental reform.

  • underdoglet

    Our first Wichita attempt to get MJ reform on the Nov 2014 ballot failed by 36 signatures and hyper scrutiny of dates signed and addresses. On our second attempt, we used the Nov 4 election to collect all the needed signatures at several election polling stations as voters left. The April 7, 2015 election is a City General Election with the Mayor, Council and BOE on the ballot along with our Marijuana Sentencing Reform. The KS Attorney General Derek Schmidt just wrote a 13-page opinion against us and called for the City to not put it on the ballot. So far the City has resisted, saying they already voted it on and it stays to let the people vote. We are waiting to see if the Sec of State Kris Kobach will intervene before the printing… In our work with 2 local reform petitions among the general public as well as the voters at the Nov polls, this issue is seriously popular.