The laws in Kansas City, Missouri, have evolved recently to take a more tolerant view of marijuana use. Charges in the Municipal Court have decreased since the prosecutor’s office of Jackson County announced its intention to stop prosecuting marijuana cases. Approximately two years ago, a ballot measure that would eliminate the possibility of jail time for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana and reduce the maximum penalty to a $25 fine passed successfully. Now the newly sworn-in mayor seeks to continue the trend by making good on a campaign promise to pardon some people with a history of marijuana conviction.
The new mayor decries the perceived unfairness of poor people living with the stigma of past marijuana conviction, which could show up on applications for loans, schools or jobs. However, it is not yet clear precisely how the mayor’s proposed program would work in Kansas City. For example, details are sketchy as to who exactly would qualify for the pardons, whether it would affect only those with convictions on their records or those whose cases are still in the court system.
Though details are not yet available, the speculation is that that pardons would not happen automatically. More likely, it would be the responsibility of each eligible individual to obtain a copy of his or her criminal record and submit it to the mayor’s office to apply for the pardon.
While the mayor continues to formulate his plan, there are currently 3,000 pending marijuana cases in the city’s municipal court, a figure which includes outstanding warrants. Those individuals, as well as other Missourians in similar circumstances, may find it helpful to consult an attorney.