The Wichita City Council recently green-lighted marijuana possession within the city limits, making the largest city in Kansas the least restrictive on cannabis possession statewide.
The decriminalization measure seeks to cut down on arrests and prosecutions of marijuana users without legalizing it. Starting today (Friday), the city will no longer prosecute cannabis cases, reported The Wichita Eagle.
While Wichita police could still arrest people for cannabis possession or use it as a reason to search their property, criminal charges would have to be filed by Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett.
Attorney general candidate Kris Kobach’s stance on marijuana legalization is clear — he wants to keep it illegal.
The GOP official recently said that the Wichita City Council’s recent move “sends a message that, well, marijuana is OK,” adding that it’s not the “message I want to send to my kids.”
Kobach’s Democratic opponent, AG candidate Chris Mann, was not too fond of the council’s move either. He said lawmakers need to address the issue statewide, not locally.
“I don’t think that a patchwork of local rules is going to be helpful because it just moves the problem from municipal court to district court,” Mann said. “I think that we need to have a statewide solution if there’s going to be one.”
The two candidates crossed paths on Thursday as they attended their first one-on-one forum hosted by the Wichita Metro Crime Commission.
Opposing Views On MMJ Legalization
While they agreed on the issue of marijuana legalization, the two Kansas officials have opposing views on medical cannabis, given that Kansas is one of the few states that does not have a comprehensive MMJ law.
Kobach’s anti-legalization stance is based on the fear that medical access to cannabis would be “automatically abused.”
He’s staunchly against it because “then you end up legalizing something that becomes Pandora’s box because no state that has a law that allows medical marijuana has been able to confine it to purely medical cases.”
On the other hand, Mann would prefer “well-regulated medical marijuana at the state level.”
“The Legislature hasn’t decided to do that yet, but if they were to decide to do that, we need to put up some safeguards,” Mann said. “We need to ensure that we’re protecting vulnerable populations and our children. We need to have more drug addiction help, and we need money to go to law enforcement.”
Gov. Laura Kelly Wants MMJ Legalized
Meanwhile, Governor Laura Kelly (D) continues to push for policy reform. Earlier this year, she signed legislation allowing Kansans to obtain prescription medications derived from cannabis-related products.
“I think [MMJ legalizaition] is a good place for us to start,” Kelly said in Louisburg after an event celebrating a highway expansion. “Get that infrastructure built so that we can regulate it the way it needs to be regulated, ensure that we implement it in a way that’s productive.”