Monday, February 17, 2014

Kansas marijuana laws backward and outdated

While Colorado has blazed the trail for legal marijuana, Kansas has done the opposite over the last few years. I can remember when Kansas, as with many other states, began to lower the penalties for marijuana. By 1980, it was not legal, however, the penalties made more sense, marijuana was not a high priority for law enforcement and the drug was no longer being treated as if it were as dangerous as heroin, cocaine and meth amphetamine.
Since that time that trend has reversed here in Kansas. The penalties have gotten worse and marijuana arrests have gone up. Nation-wide there has been a move to push for legalizing the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Also two states have made it legal, Colorado and Washington, the state of Kansas has gone back to the bad ol’ days of treating marijuana as a major dangerous drugs.
According to KANOKLA, a network that has tracked marijuana arrests in Kansas, bout 57 to 61 percent of drug arrests for any kind of drugs in Kansas has been for marijuana possession. That includes minor amounts as well as paraphernalia that can be used for marijuana.
As with other states, Kansas has tougher penalties for possession or sale of any drug near a school. While most of those arrested for possession or sales of marijuana were white males, those charged for possession or sales near a school are almost the same for black and white persons. Some people have accused proponents of marijuana use to have racist intentions. Others accuse the government of using those laws for the state to make money off of the people they catch.
While there haven’t been many politicians in Kansas to push for legalization or even decriminalizing the use of marijuana, there have been a few exceptions. In 2013, Kansas Senator David Haley introduced SB 9, last year, which would establish a medical marijuana program in Kansas similar to those of 20 other states. However there has been stiff resistance to allow the bill to get a hearing, which effectively keeps it stalled.
It’s not surprising that our ultra-conservative law makers here in Kansas are trying to preserve the past. They already live in the past so defending outdated marijuana laws is not a surprise. But people are starting to organize against these laws and there was a rally to change them in the Kansas Capital Building in Topeka just earlier this month. 
More such rallies are being organized by a number of groups who have coordinated actions through the Marijuana Policy Projects Blog.
The marijuana laws are outdated and are not popular with the people in this state and it is about time there were changed. These backward politicians may have to get out of the way and let people have the kind of rules they want in this state.


Don't Bogart That Joint!

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