The possession of marijuana and the penalties for being caught with it are hot topics in Kansas City. The City Council decided to hold a hearing in September to decide whether or not the city’s laws should be changed regarding the possession of marijuana. Many people attended the hearing in support of the proposed bill to loosen the punishments. The initial plan was to decriminalize possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana.
“There were so many people who wanted to speak about the ordinance committee chair Katheryn Shields finally asked people in favor to stand,” according to an article published Sept. 25 by KCUR. “About 20 rose. When she asked for those opposed to stand, nobody did.”
However, the committee recently ruled unanimously to pass a measure that would wipe out a municipal violation for anyone caught with 35 grams or less of marijuana after 180 days. Like the previous hearing, many people showed up to voice their opinions. However, committee chairwoman Katheryn Shields decided to not have public comments at the hearing, which angered supporters Third District at-large City Councilman and proposer of the ordinance Brandon Ellington. Ellington’s ordinance had been significantly revised since the first hearing, which also angered supporters.
“I’m appalled,” said Elyshya Miller, one of Ellington’s supporters. “I’m angry as a taxpayer to be shushed, basically, and to see the blatant disrespect of the council for someone who is being a champion for every constituent in this city.”
Because of Shields’ actions, a recall rally is on its way to recall the councilwoman. Joyce McGautha, another disgruntled Ellington supporter, is leading this recall.
“Members of the council cannot be removed until after 6 months in office, which means McGautha has about four months to wait,” according to KCUR. “Resident Esther Holzendorf said that it gives her time to rally the support necessary to recall Shields, which would require thousands of signatures.”
Luckily for Shields, she also has four months to rally support behind her to fight the recall campaign against her.
After the meeting and Shields’ neglect to acknowledge the public’s opinion, Ellington and a group of his supporters marched up to Mayor Quinton Lucas’ office and then the 25th floor of City Hall to officially file an ethics violation against the committee.
The only issue the committee had with the proposal was the size of Kansas City itself. Since the city spans out to Cass, Platte and Clay counties, prosecutors intend to still prosecute those who possess marijuana under state law. This means some residents of Kansas City could still possibly be prosecuted for possession of marijuana. In 2018 Jackson County decided to not prosecute those facing possession charges.
The committee will be meeting this week to vote on whether or not the proposed bill will be passed.