Activists dispute federal study's findings on marijuana's affect on crime

Bill Grady
September 30, 2019 - 7:16 am
Suspect in handcuffs while investigator holds small bag with possible marijuana in it

Roman Didkivskyi - iStock - Getty Images Plus

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Kansas City councilman Brandon Ellington and his allies say the police department is off base on its opposition to marijuana decriminalization.

Ellington has introduce a measure to create an ordinance that would simple possession a municipal violation, with no fine. The limit would be 100 grams of marijuana, or about three and a half ounces.

But the KCPD cites a federal study that it says shows crime has risen in states that have eased penalties.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) report on marijuana is flawed, said Dan Viets, state coordinator for the pro cannabis group NORML. Colorado is one of the states cited by police because of increases in crime and traffic fatalities that have occurred since the state decriminalized recreational marijuana in 2014. Viets believes good people will suffer if changes are not made. 

"It makes criminals out of people who are otherwise law-abiding, productive and good citizens," Viets said. "The ultimate irony is that marijuana prohibition does not even reduce the numbers of people who use marijuana."  

The city council's public safety committee put Ellington’s proposal on hold until next month.

The concept of decriminalization is gaining momentum. In 2017, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved an ordinance to eliminate the possibility of jail time for possession of 35 grams or less of pot, and to reduce the fine to $25.

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