Monday, December 3, 2018

Missouri's new medical marijuana law and KCPD

Earlier this month, Missouri voters approved Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana. I’ve heard many questions about how this will affect our enforcement activity. The short answer is: it won’t.

Amendment 2 allows state-licensed physicians to recommend marijuana use to patients. Doctor-approved patients must obtain an identification card from the state indicating they are permitted to use medical marijuana. With the card, they will be allowed to grow six flowering plants in their homes and purchase 4 ounces of dried marijuana or equivalent from a state-licensed dispensary. The state must begin accepting applications for qualifying patients no later than June 4, 2019.

The passing of this ballot measure added Article XVI to the Missouri Constitution. Part of that amendment states, “This section is not intended to change current civil and criminal laws governing the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. The section does not allow for the public use of marijuana and driving under the influence of marijuana.”

Because criminal laws about recreational marijuana use have not changed, neither will our enforcement. The members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department take an oath to enforce state statutes. Until laws change, we will conduct business in accordance with our oath and the laws of this state. For felony-level marijuana possession cases (35 or more grams), we will continue to submit case files to all the county prosecutors’ offices in Kansas City, depending on where the offense took place: Clay, Platte, Jackson and Cass.

Most misdemeanor-level cases will continue to be submitted to city prosecutors. While the possession of 35 grams of marijuana or less carries a fine of just $25, it is still a misdemeanor and will be noted as such on an individual’s criminal record. The passage of Missouri’s medical marijuana law in no way changes that. It does, however, raise many other questions regarding firearms, employment and more that are beyond law enforcement.

Police do not make laws. Legislators – and in this case, citizen petitions and voters – do that. We are sworn to enforce the laws as they are written, regardless of what is trendy or popular, and we will continue to do so. If there comes a day that marijuana is fully legalized, of course we will adapt and treat it as any other legal substance that also can cause impairment.

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