Marijuana Legalization in Kansas
Marijuana legalization is a hot issue in Kansas. It has generated significant controversy, but some lawmakers are pushing forward with legislation.
Possession of marijuana paraphernalia in Kansas is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500. Generally, a person can avoid jail time if they are willing to accept probation.
Despite the growing support for medical marijuana, lawmakers have yet to take action. This year, a bill aimed at legalizing the drug died in the Senate after it passed the House. Governor Laura Kelly mentioned the issue in her State of the State address, but didn’t suggest any legislation.
One of the main issues is the cultivation of marijuana, which could be a major hurdle for any legislative effort. The state’s laws forbid the cultivation of marijuana, even for medical purposes. Anyone caught growing marijuana could face prison time and hefty fines.
The committee that oversees the medical marijuana bill is scheduled to meet twice this month to discuss the proposed legislation. It will hear from law enforcement, state agencies and local government representatives on October 12 and the public on October 19, KSNT reports. This is the first meeting for this bill since it stalled in 2021. The chairman of the committee said he had “bigger fish to fry.” But advocates say they’re not giving up on legalizing marijuana in Kansas.
Currently, possession of marijuana in Kansas is illegal. The penalty for possessing marijuana is up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature to decriminalize marijuana, but none have passed. In addition, the state’s law enforcement agencies are opposed to the bills. Former Johnson County Sheriff Greg Smith testified against a bill to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession during a committee hearing last month.
Despite the growing popularity of marijuana, lawmakers in Kansas aren’t likely to legalize it anytime soon. A few bills have been introduced, but they will likely not become law until 2024. HB 2363, for instance, would release any person convicted of crimes involving marijuana from prison and allow the expungement of records related to those convictions. The bill has been referred to different House committees, and its hearing was adjourned until January 2024. If the bill passes, it will be the first time that recreational marijuana has been legalized in the state.
The Kansas legislature has not yet passed a comprehensive medical marijuana bill, and the state’s 2023 legislative session is over. This means that unless lawmakers vote to pass a medical cannabis bill in 2024, it will likely be at least another year before the state’s residents can purchase and smoke pot legally. In the meantime, residents of the state are buying marijuana from neighboring states and committing crimes to do so.
Many states use a percentage-of-price model to tax recreational cannabis, while others use a weight-based system. In addition, local marijuana taxes are not reported as a separate category of revenue, but rather as a portion of state and local general sales taxes.
Some states also use marijuana-related excise taxes to fund traditional government programs, such as education and transportation. This is a key factor for some voters who are wary of marijuana legalization, and legislators seeking to pass cannabis-related legislation often include stipulations about how the funds will be spent to appeal to those voters.
The state’s current marijuana laws are based on an antiquated model that has not kept pace with changing attitudes toward cannabis. As a result, Kansas remains one of the few states without legal recreational marijuana or medical marijuana. Earlier this year, lawmakers introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in the state and establish regulations for a medical program. However, the bill died in committee.
Under current Kansas law, first-time offenders found in possession of less than 450 grams face a misdemeanor penalty up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Cultivation of five or more plants is a felony punishable by up to 51 months in prison and fines of up to $300,000.
Under the state’s current marijuana laws, any property used for, intended for, or derived from illicit cannabis activities may be confiscated. Additionally, the state allows authorities to seize cash and vehicles involved in cannabis offenses. These penalties are a significant obstacle to the implementation of a marijuana legalization program in Kansas.