I was once cited for marijuana possession, somewhere in the mid-2000’s. Fortunately it was not too memorable of an experience because I was caught in Oregon, which was the first state to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. For the record I had 14 grams (of the fire!!). Rather than be arrested, potentially jailed, and no doubt had my life turned upside down, I was given a ticket and sent on my way.
Legalization is better than decriminalization, but in conservative states where legalization is tough to achieve, decriminalization is a great move. Decriminalization is DEFINITELY better than treating marijuana possession as a crime. Currently in Missouri possession of 10 grams or less is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 (no jail time). Possession of between 10 and 35 grams is also a misdemeanor, but punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Voters in Kansas City, Missouri will be voting on a local marijuana decriminalization measure today, which would dramatically lower the penalty for personal marijuana possession. Per KMBZ:
Kansas City voters will decide Tuesday whether to greatly reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuaua (sic).
Question 5 would mean anyone 21 and older caught with under an ounce of weed would get a ticket with a $25 fine in Kansas City.
A major hat tip to the KC NORML chapter for fighting to get this local measure on the ballot. As I always say, if you can’t reform laws at the state level, take it local. I just hope that we don’t see a scenario like in Kansas and Tennessee where local reforms were approved, then wiped out by state officials who flexed their state level muscles. But step one is the vote today, which hopefully turns out favorable. We will make sure to post the results when they are available. Go get ’em Kansas City!