Lawrence lightens the penalty on marijuana busts


States all over the U. S. have voted in favor of legalizing the use of medical and recreational marijuana. Kansas is not one of them. The criminalization of marijuana traces back all the way to 1937. Since then, a dynamic wave of change has commenced 30 states to legalize the use of medical marijuana and nine have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. The first state to legalize medical marijuana was California in 1996. Years later, Colorado legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2012, and Washington followed shortly after.

Medical marijuana can be purchased by those who hold a red card. A red card is a medical marijuana license that must be prescribed by a health care physician. Candidates who hold a red card can legally smoke marijuana, consume medicinal edibles and use THC oils freely, as it is used for medical use only. Card holders can be younger than 18 to obtain a prescription.

Recreational use of marijuana is the use of purchasing and using marijuana freely, without having to worry about the laws that follow medical marijuana usage. In the states that freely legalize recreational marijuana, anyone 21 years or older can liberally indulge in marijuana, however, if you are caught using marijuana in a state that does not consent the use of medical or recreational marijuana, such as the state of Kansas, you will be penalized.

The state officials abide by their residents using marijuana, they believe marijuana to be a controlled substance, despite the sister states surrounding us that say otherwise. Kansas has classified the use of marijuana like the use of meth and heroine and has criminalized the use of marijuana, disregarding the medical benefits of the plant, similar to their criminalization of the peyote plant. Peyote, alongside marijuana, is identified in Kansas as a botanical drug and any of the extracts of the plant or the plant seeds can be expected to result in a possible criminalization. Both peyote and marijuana have been classified as illegal in the state of Kansas.

Lawrence, Kansas, has undergone excessive measures beyond the states requirements, which will result in the penalization of people who are caught using marijuana. As of Oct. 10, 2018, if you are caught using marijuana in Lawrence, Kansas, as a first-time offender, you can expect to pay for your own drug evaluation, as well as a $200 fine, however, according to the state law, first-time offenders are not required to pay a minimum fine or undergo a drug test. The maximum fine obtained by the law ordinance and the state law of a person or persons caught with marijuana in the state of Kansas, is $1,000 dollars and/or up to 180 days of jail time. The Lawrence commissioners have decided to look further into the criminalization of marijuana use and have thought to an agreement in effectively reducing the $200 fine to $50. The Lawrence commissioners have also sought to restrict the compulsory drug test, seeing as the drug test is not a mandatory undergoing, according to the state law.

The leading cause of preventable death in Americans age 18-25, is accidents co-related or not, to drunk driving.

According to the CDC, drunk driving contributed to more than 10,000 crash deaths.

No reports of death have been related or have been blamed to be the leading cause of a single fatality in the state of Kansas, or anywhere in the US. 

“The use of marijuana is so modernized and harmless to a point that its almost ridiculous to fine everyone for taking part in the many uses of the plant. There has never been anything fatal or even harmful co-related to the use of marijuana,” said Angel Gallegos, Colorado native and member of the Topeka community. “The commissioners should be looking into a way to illegalize alcohol consumption. Drunk driving, that’s the real problem in Kansas.”

Kansas has favored in most voters to push the law of minimizing the penalty fee to anyone caught with 35 grams or less of marijuana. This does not mean that the use of marijuana is legal in the state of Kansas. The defendants who are criminalized for being caught using marijuana and will not be given free legal advice from the Kansas municipal courts, if they can’t afford a lawyer. The new laws are pushing so that defendants will not be required to undergo jail time, however, in Missouri, the state has been pushing to gain 170,000 petitioners to sign the ballot that will induce the state-wide legalization of marijuana in the voting sector of November 2018.

If you have been caught with marijuana, J. Steven Neighbors, criminal defense attorney for Overland Park, Kansas, offers advice to someone who is caught with marijuana in the state of Kansas.

“Under appropriate circumstances, the odor, alone, of marijuana may not be sufficient evidence to support a search of your vehicle. I suggest that you have an experienced defense attorney review your situation. Also, you might have your attorney look into the testing aspects for the marijuana. Your attorney might be in a position to avert lab testing on the substances recovered by the police,” Neighbors said. “If an agreement is stipulated with the prosecution early enough to stop any lab testing request that may have been submitted to a crime lab. Such a step could prevent a mandatory $400 lab fee being assessed in your case, in addition to other fines, costs and monitoring fees, if any.”

The President of The Washburn University Democrats, Jackson Woods offered his advice.

“Considering the severe penalties that Lawrence currently has for marijuana possession, I think that the City Commission should seriously consider and follow through with reducing or even eliminating them. If we want to treat people fairly in our criminal justice system and continue to consider marijuana use to be a problem behavior, we should help rehabilitate them from that habit instead of punishing them monetarily or making them lose their job as a result of imprisonment. However, I consider marijuana to be no worse than alcohol or tobacco, which are both legal, and think that marijuana should follow suit.” Woods also added a tidbit from the excerpts from the Kansas Democratic party platform, stating, “Kansas Democrats support full legalization of marijuana for personal as well as medical use.” Woods also added, “Kansas Democrats support the availability of marijuana for medical use and protection of patients from criminal arrest and prosecution.”