Government & Politics

Petition seeking vote to decriminalize pot in KC has enough signatures

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley

A group has gathered sufficient signatures to seek a public vote to decriminalize marijuana in Kansas City.
A group has gathered sufficient signatures to seek a public vote to decriminalize marijuana in Kansas City. Mark Boster.

A petition initiative seeking a vote to decriminalize marijuana possession in Kansas City has enough signatures to qualify for an election ballot.

City Clerk Marilyn Sanders said Thursday that election authorities had counted more than 2,000 valid signatures of registered voters, more than the 1,708 required to place a citizen-led initiative on a Kansas City ballot.

The City Council has 60 days to review the proposal and determine if it should go before voters. The deadline to submit a proposal for the April ballot is Jan. 19, so that deadline may pass before the council completes its review.

The Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws led the petition drive. The proposal says possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana would be treated as a city ordinance violation with a $25 fine, rather than a more serious criminal violation that could go on someone’s permanent record or lead to jail time.

Jamie Kacz, spokeswoman for NORML KC, said the proposed measure is similar to measures already in place in St. Louis and Columbia. But Kansas City is different from those cities — and every other city in the country — in that it doesn’t control the Police Department or its marijuana enforcement efforts. The Police Department is a state agency, although funded by the city.

Kacz said Thursday her group wants to work collaboratively with the Kansas City Law Department to craft a measure that can pass legal muster and be placed on a city ballot.

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley

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