Kansas City, MO - Mayor Quinton Lucas, with support of four City Council members, wants to remove possession or control of marijuana as a violation from city ordinance.
"One of the ways we improve police-community relations is by eliminating laws that for too long have led to negative interactions, arrests, convictions, and disproportionate rates of incarceration of black men and black women,” Lucas said. “Reducing petty offenses – such as municipal marijuana offenses – reduce these negative interactions each day.”
Missouri voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2018, clearing the way for additional reform, according to Fifth District Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw.
In a release, the mayor's office said public opinion surrounding marijuana use has changed dramatically recently. Kansas City voters chose to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in 2017, instead choosing to impose a $25 fine for amounts of 35 grams or less.
The office cites the American Civil Liberties Union in saying black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession despite roughly equal usage rates.
“State and federal law remain clear with marijuana,” Lucas said. "“The city doesn’t need to be in that business; instead, we remain focused on how we can help open doors to new opportunities and empower people to make a decent living."
In addition to Parks-Shaw, Third District-at-Large Councilman Brandon Ellington, Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, and Fifth District-at-Large Councilman Lee Barnes join with Lucas to introduce the ordinance Thursday.