Society

Decriminalizing Marijuana Makes Sense

| by Shani Shahmoon

Kansas City constituents are eager to join the club of marijuana reformers.

On April 4, Kansas City citizens made major changes to their marijuana policies in an effort to decriminalize possession of pot.

The old ordinance, carried out by Kansas City law enforcement, threatened those caught in possession of marijuana with a $500 fine and a potential sentence of up to 180 days in jail, the Kansas City Star reported

Such protocols are wildly unreasonable, and often unfairly handled.

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With the help of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Kansas City (NORML KC), a new measure was put on the ballot for constituents to vote on. And vote they did.

On April 4, with 97 percent of the precincts finished counting the ballots, the measure was passing at 71 percent of the vote.

As a result of the measure passing, if someone is caught with 35 grams or less of marijuana in Kansas City, Missouri, they only face the potential consequence of a $25 fine and no jail time. Also, if someone is found in possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia, there are no city charges.

This incident is just another example of the American people moving away from the old school and anti-normalization tactics used to stigmatize marijuana use.

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On Election Day in November 2016, eight states voted to legalize recreational or medical use of marijuana. In Florida alone, medical marijuana reform gained more interest than the future President Donald Trump, winning with 2 million more votes than the nominee, Politico reported.

In all, 29 states plus the country's capital have legalized medical and/or recreational use of marijuana. And as a result, more than half of Americans have access to medical marijuana.

It was only a matter of time until Kansas City jumped aboard the pot-embracing train.

Chuck Rosenberg, head of the DEA, had openly clarified in August 2015 that "heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana."

No surprise there.

Yet despite this statement, MedShadow reported that marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside heroin, LSD and the drug that was popular with the characters on "The Wolf of Wall Street," Quaaludes (or "lemons" as they called them). When taken, the drug caused Leonardo Dicaprio and Jonah Hill's characters to lose all control of their limbs and mouths to the point where they drooled and crawled around the set.

Despite countless scientific evidence proving its benefits, the conviction to demonize marijuana use runs strong among law enforcement. And, unfortunately, it has manifested in ways that have caused the nation's true colors to peek through.

NORML KC and the Drug Policy Alliance have pointed out that marijuana laws have often subjected minority communities to unfair treatment.

"Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, and are consistently documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races. But black people comprise 31 percent of those arrested for drug law violations, and nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated in state or federal prison for drug law violations," the DPA reported in a study released in February 2016.

Similarly, the DPA added that Latinos make up 47 percent of all drug offense cases in federal courts, while making up only 17 percent of the U.S. population.

Jamie Kacz, executive director of the NORML chapter in Kansas City, explained that under the previous ordinance, half of the people arrested for drug possession were less than 28 years old. And such convictions resulted in losses of scholarships, incarceration and permanent damage on their personal record. All of which dramatically affect employment potential, the Kansas City Star adds.

It's time the rest of America jumps aboard the ganja-accepting train.

Scientific evidence proves marijuana truly has potential to help people.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic. 

Sources: Kansas City Star (2), Politico, Drug Policy Alliance, Med Shadow / Photo credit:  NORML KC/Facebook

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