TOPEKA – The Kansas House approved a crime bill that would reduce penalties for first and second-time possession of marijuana while increasing criminalization of burglary.
House members voted 96-23 in favor of the bill Friday, following a 38-0 vote in the Senate. The bill will be sent to Gov. Sam Brownback for approval.
The measure reduces penalties for first-time marijuana possession, which now can bring a year in jail, to no more than six months in jail. The penalty for a second offense would become the most serious misdemeanor, bringing a sentence of up to a year in jail, reduced from a low-level felony. Subsequent offences could result in 10 to 42 months in prison, the current punishment for a second possession offense.
“The reason for this is because we have a lot of bed space that is utilized by people on first-time offense,” Perry Republican Rep. Ramon Gonzalez said referring to crowded prisons.
The Kansas adult prison population was 79 people over capacity as of April 28, according to the state’s department of corrections.
Meanwhile, the measure will increase the penalty for burglarizing an occupied dwelling to a minimum of 38 months in prison. Under current law, the activity could result in a minimum of 31 months in probation or prison time.