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State Lawmakers Encourage A 'No' Vote On Wichita's Marijuana Initiative

Sean Sandefur

A group of state lawmakers are encouraging voters in Wichita to defeat a marijuana initiative appearing on next Tuesdays ballots. KMUWs Sean Sandefur has more...

Back in January, the Wichita City Council voted 6-1 to allow a marijuana referendum to appear on the April 7 ballots. The initiative would lessen the penalty of first-time possession of small amounts of marijuana to a $50 fine. Current state law is up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Supporters say it would save the city and county money by limiting the number of people sitting in jail. State representatives, led by Republican Mark Kahrs of Wichita, said the initiative is illegal.

“Simply stated, under the Kansas Constitution, the City of Wichita lacks legal authority to adopt this ordinance that clearly conflicts with state law,” Kahrs said, in front the Sedgwick County Courthouse on Friday afternoon.

He added that if the referendum is approved, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt would file a suit to enforce state law. He says the referendum is essentially meaningless and that activists are knocking on the wrong door. He says if marijuana reform is what they want, they should approach state lawmakers.