Nothing says Kansas more than the unbroken sight of wheat fields. According to the state’s Department of Agriculture, Kansas has over 45 million acres of farmland. They are, as a state, one of the United States largest producers of agricultural products. From corn to wheat, to grain to beef, Kansas agriculture covers just about all there is to farm. Yet, as much as the state rightfully prizes its agricultural significance, there’s one crop that they won’t grow; marijuana. If you’re a frequent reader, then you’ll know this is where we normally say something like “but this will soon be changing“. Unfortunately, though, the state doesn’t have any promising prospects for marijuana. Weed is not legal in Kansas, and that doesn’t look to change any time soon.
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Marijuana Laws Kansas
Marijuana is illegal in Kansas. There are some exceptions to that statement, namely that of Wichita. However, anywhere else, being caught with any amount will see you walking away with a $1000 fine and potentially 6 months jail. If the amount is 450 grams or more, and there’s intent to distribute, the fine leaps to the lofty price of $100,000 and 42 months prison. In 2016, there were 3,828 arrests for marijuana possession in the state of Kansas.
While the above is true for most of Kansas, Wichita has taken some contention with the present state laws. Over the years, Wichita City has tried numerous times to locally decriminalize marijuana. Since then, the state of Kansas and Kansas supreme court saw fit to overrule Wichita City’s decision, striking down decriminalization on a technicality. Finally, in 2017, Wichita City Council voted unanimously to distinctly reduce the penalty for first-time offenders. Instead of the state’s standard, first-time offenders in Wichita City are only given a $50 fine, and treated much like a traffic citation.
Medical Marijuana Kansas
Thankfully, when it comes to medicinal laws and programs, Kansas is much more sensible. Maybe not much more, but it does allow CBD at least (baby steps right). In 2019, Kansas state signed a medical CBD law, allowing for anyone diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition” to access medicinal CBD. In that same year, recommendations were passed from Kansas lawmakers pushing for a fully-fledged medical marijuana program. The recommendation suggested that Kansas model this program off Ohio’s, notable for how comprehensive its coverage is.
Kansas State Weed History
In recent years, Kansas law enforcement and marijuana have not had the best relationship. When Colorado first got legal weed back in 2014, Kansas joined a coalition of prosecutors and sheriffs from Nebraska with the intent of suing the state of Colorado. Their logic? That the legalization of marijuana in Colorado had inadvertently made their jobs more difficult stating: “we are forced away from some of what we normally do because we are having to deal with Colorado-sourced marijuana”. Ultimately the attempt to sue was shot down and withdrawn.
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A second example of Kansas law enforcements contempt for marijuana happened more recently, in 2019. While the bill for medicinal CBD was still awaiting a vote, Kansas law enforcement testified against the bill. The area they took the most exception with was that of caregivers being able to possess CBD. During their testimony, they conflated CBD with marijuana and proceeded to state “legalization of medical marijuana would increase car accidents and violent crime and make it easier for foreign drug cartels to move weed onto the black market“. Obviously they lack significant education around the differences between THC and CBD.
Public Opinion On Legal Weed In Kansas
You would think that for a state that has fairly harsh marijuana laws and law enforcement hell-bent on its eradication, public sentiment for legalization wouldn’t be all that high. In this case, you would be mistaken. A joint survey ran by The Docking Institute of Public Affairs and Fort Hays State University in 2015 found that 68% of the state is in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Further, 63% of Kansas is in favor of marijuana decriminalization. A lot of states have legalized in the five years since the survey. You could reasonably assume that the current support levels are even higher today.
The tides of change are slow, and such is the case with Kansas. While there is public support for decriminalization, and Wichita City acting as a living case study, the state of Kansas is unlikely to legalize or decriminalize marijuana anytime soon. This is unsurprising given the state’s history of laws that fundamentally don’t make sense (at one time it was against the law to serve ice cream on cherry pie in Kansas). Marijuana prohibition does not make sense from many standpoints, least of all for an agricultural heavy state. Despite this, the legal status of weed in Kansas will likely stay the same for the near future.
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