Friday, May 01, 2015

A need to listen to the public on marijuana

A Letter to the Editor by blog author Otto:

Now that Wichitans have voted to lower the criminal penalties for marijuana possession, it is time to let state politicians know they need to respect the vote of the people.

Most people realize marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. A recent poll indicated that 63 percent of Kansans approve of the decriminalization of marijuana while 68 percent approve of medical marijuana (April 24 Eagle).

The real problem is that locking up users of marijuana has filled our jails, and that has put a heavy tax burden on our society. It should be clear to everyone by now that we are locking people up for petty reasons.

The group JENI (Jobs and Education-Not Incarceration) and the Peace and Social Justice Center worked for months to gather the needed signatures to put this issue on the ballot in Wichita. They are concerned about mass incarceration and are looking for ways to reduce it. Keeping marijuana users out of prisons is a good first step.

Right now there is a bill in the Legislature, House Bill 2049, that would reduce the severity level of the crime of marijuana possession. That would do much of what the new ordinance in Wichita does. Contact your state officials today and let them know that this is about democracy. The people of Wichita have spoken, and it is time our elected officials listened.



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