State Government Strikes Down Marijuana Ballot Initiative
On Friday, the highest court in the State of Kansas ruled a Wichita ordinance to reduce penalties for possession of marijuana “null and void”. The ordinance held that lesser penalties should be enforced for residents possessing marijuana if they are over the age of 21 and possess less than 32 grams of the substance.
The opinion stated that on Jan. 7, 2015, a group calling themselves the Marijuana Reform Initiative filed petitions containing thousands of signatures with the Wichita city clerk, proposing a change to the municipal code. According to city council, the ordinance was added to the ballot because the petition garnered such a large response. With 3,000 signatures, the ordinance was put to a vote, and was approved by Wichita citizens in April. The vote yielded a positive response to the measure, with 54% of votes in its favor. The court stated that the petition should have been presented at the time that the ordinance was proposed. Previously, the measure had been put on hold by the Supreme Court, as Justices considered its legality.
Activists in other Kansas communities have closely followed the issue, as its progress may forge a path for similar voter-led initiatives in the future, though state legislature has rejected marijuana liberalization laws repeatedly.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt found that the ordinance was in conflict with the state law, and asked that it be stricken down by the court.
The court's full opinion is available here.