Last night, the Kansas City city council was supposed to vote on a marijuana decriminalization proposal.
However, the council made some unexpected changes during the meeting, sidelining the proposal and passing a very different piece of legislation instead. The move angered many marijuana advocates in the city.
Committee Unexpectedly Changes Amendment, Angers Advocates
Last night was Kansas City’s Finance, Governance, and Public Safety committee meeting. And with a potentially important new piece of cannabis legislation slated for discussion, the meeting reportedly drew a large crowd.
In particular, numerous marijuana advocates were in attendance, hoping to voice their support for a move toward decriminalization.
Specifically, the committee was scheduled to vote on a decriminalization proposal introduced by Councilman Brandon Ellington. His proposal would change city rules so that getting caught with 100 grams of marijuana or less would result in a simple $25 fine.
However, the Finance, Governance, and Public Safety committee did not actually vote on this proposal. Instead, the committee unexpectedly sidelined Ellington’s amendment.
And in its place, the committee voted on and passed a very different piece of legislation under which anyone caught with 35 grams of weed or less would have the charge expunged from a person’s record after a 180 day period.
According to local news source KCUR, the last minute change left many marijuana advocates feeling frustrated. For starters, the committee unexpectedly dropped the main piece of decriminalization legislation.
Additionally, the policy that did get passed simply amended a legislative change put into place back in 2017. That year, voters approved a measure that eliminated jail time for possession of 35 grams of marijuana or less and replaced it with a $25 fine.
Even under the terms of the 2017 rule, a marijuana citation could still show up on a person’s record. Now, the amendment passed last night changes that, making it possible for such charges to disappear after 180 days.
Despite this, marijuana advocates remained angry that the committee did not move on Ellington’s much more sweeping decriminalization proposal.
Public Comments Not Allowed
Further angering the marijuana advocates in attendance, the committee did not allow any public comments. As a result, nobody was given the chance to speak out about the unexpected change in the legislation being passed by the committee.
“I’m appalled,” Elyshya Miller, a marijuana advocate who attended the meeting, told the media. “I’m angry as a taxpayer to be shushed, basically, and to see the blatant disrespect of the council for someone who is being a champion for every constituent in this city.”
After the meeting ended, some of the angry residents called for the removal of Councilwoman Katheryn Shields. She ran the meeting and made the decision to block public comments.
Under Kansas City rules, a city council member cannot be removed from office until they have served for at least six months. Shields has not yet been in office that long. So residents will have to wait before trying to get her removed.
Additionally, Ellington and many supporters of his decriminalization idea headed to the mayor’s office. They said they were going to file an ethics violation complaint.