On Thursday, July 9, 2020, the Kansas City, Missouri City Council voted in a 9-4 vote to remove possession or control of marijuana as a violation of the Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Code. The removal of possession of marijuana from the municipal code means that the City of Kansas City, Missouri will no longer prosecute possession of marijuana offenses. Mayor Lucas hopes that the removal of this offense will improve police-community relations by removing a law from the municipal code that has historically led to negative interactions and disproportionate police contact between people of color and the police.

The removal of possession of marijuana from the Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Code was the final step by the City in its efforts to reduce prosecution of marijuana offenses. In 2017, Kansas City, Missouri voters decided by a 75/25 percent margin to decriminalize possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana in the city code by imposing $25 fine in lieu of any additional criminal penalty. Additionally, earlier this year Mayor Lucas launched a Marijuana Pardon Program for non-violent, low-level municipal marijuana and paraphernalia offenses.

Please note that possession of marijuana in Kansas City, Missouri may still result in criminal charges in state and federal courts in Missouri.  In general, the distinction between state and federal charges, along with the severity of the penalties, will depend upon on the amount of marijuana and whether the person intended to distribute the same.  To make things even more confusing, the State of Missouri does allow for legal possession of medical marijuana even though federal law does not. 

In  2018, Missourians voted with 65.5% support to amend the state constitution to permit the use of medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment allows Missouri residents to be in possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana if they are in possession of a medical marijuana card. It also allows out of state residents who possess a valid medical marijuana card from another state the same protections from civil and criminal liability as Missouri residents. It is important to note that marijuana possession remains a criminal offense under Federal law but prosecution for amounts typically associated with personal use are rare.

If you or someone you know is charged with a marijuana or another possession offense it is important to contact experienced legal counsel who is familiar with controlled substances case law and defenses. Possession cases are often won and lost on legal arguments as it relates to the validity of a search. David Bell and his team have years of experience in fighting drug possession cases and are to assist you or someone you know facing a drug possession offense.