Topeka, KS: State Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court Friday seeking to halt the city of Wichita from enacting a voter-approved initiative lessening marijuana possession penalties.
Fifty-four percent of Wichita voters approved the measure last Tuesday. The municipal ordinance reduces penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenses (up to one ounce) to a civil infraction punishable by a $50.00 fine. It also prohibits the Wichita Police Department and the judges of the Wichita Municipal Court from reporting convictions under the new ordinance to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
State law classifies marijuana possession as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
"The backers of this local ordinance took their complaint to the wrong governing body," Schmidt said. "If they want to act contrary to state law, they need to convince the Legislature to change state law."
City officials are seeking a declaratory judgment from a district court in regard to whether they can implement the new law.
In recent years, voters in numerous other municipalities, including Denver and Detroit, have decided in favor of local ordinances reducing or eliminating marijuana possession penalties.
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