It’s Happening — Cops and Juries in Drug War-Happy-Kansas are Refusing to Enforce Pot Prohibition
Article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.
When Colorado took the historic step of restoring freedom by legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, neighboring prohibitionist states became desperate.
Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court against Colorado, seeking to have federal government stamp out the legalization movement. Thankfully, the court denied the challenge, although the states can still take their crusade to lower courts.
The Kansas Attorney General didn’t jump into the lawsuit, but decided to actually gather evidence about the effect of Colorado legal cannabis on his state. AG Derek Schmidt surveyed law enforcement agencies and district attorneys across Kansas, receiving 390 responses in what represents “the first large-scale picture of the impact of Colorado’s legalization on Kansas.”
The results are in, and it’s unwelcome news for drug war fanatics. According to the Kansas City Star:
“The amount of marijuana being confiscated appears to be dropping quickly…
The Kansas Highway Patrol reported that the number of marijuana stops has gone down since marijuana was legalized in 2014. And the amount of marijuana seized has decreased by almost half.”
Even more interesting than the fact that less cannabis is being confiscated – contrary to what the fear-mongers were predicting – is that attitudes about cannabis have shifted dramatically in both law enforcement and the public.
“In some jurisdictions, law enforcement are no longer enforcing marijuana laws much, and even when they do, it has become difficult to win convictions. Users may receive a fine in one county, probation or jail in another and told to move along in others.
“The criminal justice system is moving in the direction of what appears to be changes in public attitude,” Schmidt said. “Obviously not moving as far as some people would like, but there is obviously an evolution or a change, and this showed that it has reached the enforcement level as well.”
Kansas appears to have a population of good cops and district attorneys who realize that enforcing the war on weed is nonsense.
“Our local deputies and sheriff tell me they stop at least five cars a day with personal-use marijuana inside and absolutely refuse to issue a citation or report for it,” according to the district attorney’s office in Clark County. “They simply confiscate it and send them on their way.”
As a rather humorous consequence of this, one police department had to install fans in their drug storage facility “because of the overpowering strong odor that the Colorado marijuana has.”
Some authorities are recognizing the futility, and perhaps the injustice, of criminalizing cannabis users and putting them in jail.
“We need our very limited jail space and male prison space to house violent offenders, sex criminals, meth head thieves and burglars, and sellers of opioid pills and Mexican brown heroin,” said the Ellsworth County DA.
Even if someone is unlucky enough to get caught by Reefer Madness cops and prosecutors, chances are the jury will find them not guilty. The AG report also shows that public sentiment is changing quickly, and this is coming through in the courts.
“Some juries are refusing to hand out marijuana convictions.
“I have had a number of potential jurors during voir dire opine their belief that marijuana should be legal,” according to the district attorney in Labette County. “Oddly enough, these statements were made in nonmarijuana cases.”
This is true for young and old, black and white, according to the district attorney in Leavenworth County. The elderly say it should be allowed for medicinal purposes, while young jurors tell the DA it’s “less serious than tobacco or alcohol, and they oppose the use of tax funds to prosecute marijuana cases.”
All in all, the Kansas AG’s report is heartening news for those of us fighting to end the senseless war on drugs. Colorado’s revolutionary legalization of both recreational and medical cannabis is disproving the rhetoric of rabid prohibitionists, and is awakening public citizens and even cops to the reality that this plant should be legal.
Schmidt deserves congratulations for actually seeking out factual data, as opposed to his irrational colleagues in Oklahoma and Nebraska.