A poll of likely Kansas City, Missouri, voters just released by Remington Research Group shows 56% support for the Question 5 marijuana decriminalization measure on the April 4th ballot. While these mid-year, non-presidential elections can be tricky for cannabis reformers, as young people are less likely to vote, the Remington survey shows that Question 5 has a great chance of passing.
Born and raised in the small town of Lexington, about an hour from KC, I have been watching intently the progress NORML KC has had placing a marijuana decriminalization measure on the ballot. It is hard work and extremely difficult placing a marijuana measure on the ballot with adequate funding. It is rather remarkable that NORML KC has qualified Question 5 with a purely volunteer effort, without any outside funding.
Some amount of marijuana has already been decriminalized in Columbia and St. Louis, so Kansas City won’t be moving beyond what some other Missouri communities have already done. Additionally, marijuana has been decriminalized in other cities such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Toledo, Ohio, and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania From what I understand, the sky hasn’t fallen in cities that have decriminalized cannabis, just as it hasn’t in locales that have legalized cannabis like Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, Denver, Colorado, and Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital.
With a violent crime epidemic raging in Kansas City, it is clear that law enforcement should spend its time combating serious crimes and not wasting time on arresting and jailing nonviolent marijuana users. While Chicago has made headlines for its alarming murder rate, Kansas City’s homicide rate is nearly just as high.
Ending the arrest and prosecution of minor marijuana offenders possessing up to 35 grams in Kansas City is a good step in the right direction for the Midwest city, to better allocate resources and improve the lives of its citizens. Legalizing and regulating cannabis is ultimately needed, but it will take the conservative state of Missouri a few years to get there. Passing Question 5 will help eliminate some of the harm of the racist and unjust War on Cannabis.
While Black residents make up 30% of Kansas City’s population, they account for about 70% of marijuana prosecutions. Cannabis prohibition, like all Drug War policies, disproportionately hurt people of color. A “YES” vote on Question 5 will help alleviate some of the harm caused of cannabis prohibition in Missouri and will help set the stage for future reforms statewide.