June 12, 2024

Wichita decriminalizes marijuana possession, fentanyl strips

FILE - A mature marijuana plant begins to bloom under artificial lights at Loving Kindness Farms in Gardena, Calif., May 20, 2019. The main group working to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota has a half-million dollars to press its case, far more than the shoe-leather effort they relied on four years ago. Meanwhile, a major oil industry group that funded opposition last time around says it will sit on the sidelines this time. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council on Tuesday voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and fentanyl test strips in the state’s largest city.

The move would eliminate between 750 and 850 prosecutions a year from the municipal courts. Marijuana possession is still illegal under state and federal law but local law enforcement agencies generally bring most minor marijuana possession cases to court, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett did not take a position on the proposal but said his office doesn’t have the resources to prosecute an additional 750 to 850 marijuana possession cases a year.

The repeal is scheduled for a second reading next week and is set to take effect Sept. 23.

Kansas has been far slower than other states to liberalize its marijuana laws, largely because there’s no way for voters to get proposed laws on the ballot. The Republican-controlled Legislature approved a measure this year to allow Kansans to use prescriptions derived from cannabis-related products if the drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as three currently are.

Legislative leaders formed a committee to study medical marijuana this fall and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who is seeking reelection, supports the idea.