From where we sit, here at The Daily Leaf, the train towards and to marijuana prohibition may be impossible to stop. Despite the concerning messages coming from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump White House (three words we’ll never get used to writing), states and cities continue to move towards loosening restrictions on the plant. This week, through a ballot referendum, Kansas City decriminalizes marijuana.
The city, the most populous in Missouri, overwhelmingly approved the measure with about 70% of votes cast in favor of the change. Under the new law, residents of the city will no longer face jail time for simple possession of marijuana. Instead, those caught with the plant will be issued a citation and fined $25 plus court fees. This is funny to us. Because, really, why bother with the $25 fine? We went ahead and looked it up, that’s about half what your basic expired parking meter ticket will cost you in Kansas City. We like to read this as an indication that Kansas City views smoking marijuana as half as bad as forgetting to feed the meter.
There are some concerns about the move from criminal justice advocates. As we’ve reported in the past, only cases involving the threat of jail trigger public defender provisions. This means that individuals who might benefit from a lawyer but can’t afford one may not longer receive a court-appointed lawyer in marijuana possession cases. According to the Huffington Post, Legal Aid in the state may update their regulations to address this shortcoming. Although the fine for possession may be nominal, the drug charge on the record of cited individuals could have significant implications for their employment future.
With legislatures beginning to consider legalization in states that lack initiative systems, more red states thinking seriously about medical marijuana, and an increasing number of municipalities engaging in de facto legalization moves like this one, we don’t think that the Trump monster stands a chance of taking America back to the dark days of prohibition. And if they do, at least for smokers, those age-old threats to move to Canada may finally come to fruition: our neighbor to the North plans to legalize nationally by June 2018.