Jackson County will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases

Posted at 12:36 PM, Nov 13, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday it will no longer pursue marijuana possession cases, with some exceptions.

The decision was prompted by voters’ passage of a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri last week.

Jackson County voters, in particular, showed large support for Amendment 2, with three out of four voters supporting the measure. Statewide, Amendment 2 won 66 percent of voters’ approval.

“That mandate from voters is directing this shift in our office,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a news release. “This changing attitude toward marijuana is something we have been seeing anecdotally from our juries for some time.”

The exceptions to the new policy include cases in which:

  • a person is selling or distributing marijuana without proper authority;
  • the possession of marijuana results in drugged driving;
  • the possession results in harm to a child. 

In conjunction with the new policy, the prosecutor’s office said it will release two public safety campaigns.

The first will focus on warning caregivers to keep packaged edible marijuana away from children.

The second will focus on drugged driving, stressing the fact that driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal.

The prosecutor’s office noted that its new policy has no impact on federal policy, which still makes marijuana possession a crime.

A Kansas City police spokesman said Tuesday that officers will continue to enforce current federal law, state statute and city ordinance. 

"We will evaluate any impact and how we operate as things develop down the road," KCPD spokesman Capt. Lionel Colon said. 

The 41 Files Podcast takes a deeper look every week at the stories and trends in Kansas City, hosted by the staff of 41 Action News.