Councilwoman: New marijuana law lead to 'unintended consequences' in KCMO

Posted at 7:53 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-11 09:55:38-04

One month after Kansas City voters approved an ordinance to ease penalties for people caught with small amounts of marijuana, city council members are continuing to address “unintended consequences.”

Previous coverage: Marijuana decrimilization in Kansas City on the ballot 

The ordinance “reduced the penalty but not necessarily the consequences of the criminality of it,” said council member Alissia Canady.

Under current city law, if you get caught with 35 grams of marijuana or less, you cannot face jail time. Canaday says this change means offenders won't necessarily qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. 

The maximum fine would be $25 but you could not qualify, according to Canady, to get free help fighting the charge.

Judges “have to wrestle with — do they single out this one specific ordinance and not the thousands of others we have that don't require jail sentences? I would argue, 'absolutely' because no other ordinance carries the impact of a drug-related offense,” she said.

Before the ordinance passed in April, for 35 grams or less you could have faced jail time and up to a $500 fine.

According to those behind the ordinance, the goal was to keep people out of jail for possession charges and change people’s minds about marijuana.  


Kansas City Police tell 41 Action News, their policies have not changed because of this ordinance.

According to a department spokesperson, anytime an officer discovers marijuana a field sergeant is called to test and measure the drug. If a field sergeant is unavailable, the drug in question is taken to a desk sergeant at a patrol station to be tested.