KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Douglas County, Kansas, will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession offenses, the district attorney said Thursday.
“I do not feel it is fair or just for Douglas County to criminally charge citizens with something they can do with virtually no penalty in the city of Lawrence and other surrounding communities,” District Attorney Charles Branson said in a news release.
Branson said the decision came, in part, because of changing attitudes on simple marijuana possession and as a way to allow law enforcement to focus on other issues.
The district attorney said that while drug and alcohol addiction remains a problem, prosecution of simple marijuana offenses "has a disproportional impact upon people of color and the poor."
The decision takes effect immediately.
Felony possession or cultivation of marijuana with the intent to distribute, along with driving while impaired, will continue to be prosecuted in Douglas County.
The move comes after the Lawrence City Council passed an ordinance in March lowering marijuana possession fines to $1.