What Are Kansas' Marijuana Laws?
Whether you are a fan of it or not, marijuana laws are rapidly changing all around the United States. As the plant moves away from the "dangerous gateway drug" label, and into social normality, we need to know what we can and cannot do in terms of legality (if you are worried about prosecution, that is). Kansas is one of only two states whose laws lack any acknowledgement of the medical benefits of cannabis, and our laws have always been unclear. So what are Kansas' marijuana laws, exactly?
Kansas “Decriminalizes” Marijuana in 2015
Senate bill 9 was pre-filed in early 2013. This cannabis compassion and care act would allow people with certain debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana. Patients would be allowed to own 12 plants or six ounces of marijuana for therapeutic use. The bill would also decrease penalties for cannabis possession, and order the study of industrial hemp in Kansas. In 2015, the equivalent bill, Senate Bill 155, was passed in the House, but stalled in the Senate, who said they would reopen discussion in 2016.
In April 2015, the city of Wichita voted to decriminalize cannabis, with a vote of 54-45, reducing first time possession to a $50 fine, rather than a misdemeanor with fines up to $2500 and a year of jail time (comparable to assault on a police officer). Many Kansans were under the impression that this was a done deal, but the Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt, came back and stated that he would file a lawsuit if the measure passed, arguing the city doesn't posses the authority to reduce cannabis penalties.
Reduced Marijuana Penalties in 2016
Several bills were introduced in 2016 that would have created medical cannabis programs, and others were introduced that would have provided protections for patients using low-THC cannabis products. Unfortunately, they all died in committee. Sixty-eight percent of Kansans support patient access to medical marijuana, which studies show can provide relief for patients suffering from many medical issues.
However, during the 2016 session, the Kansas Legislature enacted House Bill 2462, which took effect in July of 2016. It reduced penalties for first-time marijuana possession by half, from one year to six months in jail. A second offense was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year.
Marijuana Laws in 2017
A lengthy bill that included a very minor penalty reduction took effect in May of this year. It states that if a person is caught with paraphernalia associated with growing marijuana, such as grow lights, that the penalty will now be cut in half. Instead of facing one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine, people will now face six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. However, this change is not associated with the penalty for growing marijuana, which is a separate crime.
Let's revisit Senate Bill 155 from 2015. In March of this year, an amendment stripped out that measure and instead replaced it with one (Senate Bill 151) that would allow doctors to prescribe and dispense "non-intoxicating cannabinoid medicine." The term "non-intoxicating" refers to CBD, which is already legal on a federal level. Local media covered this with headlines such as, "Kansas Senate panel OKs medical cannabis bill," fooling and infuriating people all over the state.
In conclusion, marijuana penalties have been very slightly reduced with many years of trying, but marijuana is nowhere near legal in Kansas at this time, even for medicinal use.
Other Kansas Marijuana Laws and Penalties
- Possession with intent to distribute 450g or more of marijuana is a felony that could result in 10-42 months of probation or a $100,000 maximum fine.
- Selling or distributing marijuana of any amount is considered a felony. A person can be faced with up to a $500,000 maximum fine and anywhere from 14 months probation to seven years incarceration.
- Cultivating marijuana is considered a felony. Depending on how many plants are being grown, a person can face 46 months to 204 months in jail, and a maximum fine of up to $500,000.
- Penalties for hashish are the same as for marijuana.