Tim Samoff

Voters in Kansas City, Missouri have overwhelmingly passed a cannabis decriminalization measure that replaces current criminal penalties with a civil fine and directs law enforcement officers to no longer target citizens for possession.

The measure, which passed 74-26 percent, amends local laws regarding possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis by adults 21-and-older, from a misdemeanor, previously punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, to a civil offense that carries a $25 fine with no arrest or criminal record.

Jamie Kacz, executive director of Kansas City NORML, said the vote brings an end to “the era of reefer madness in Kansas City,” adding that “no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana.”

“We could not be more excited about the positive impact passing Question 5 will bring to the communities of Kansas City,” Kacz said in a statement. “We fought long and hard for this result and could not have done it without the support of our volunteers.”

Erik Altieri, executive director for NORML’s national organization, called the initiative’s passage “not just a victory for the people of Kansas City, but for the democratic process.”

“When concerned citizens stand up, stand together, and fight back against unjust laws, we will win,” he said in a press release. “The overwhelming majority of Americans want to end our nation’s war on marijuana consumers and politicians across the country should take heed of the message voters sent in Missouri: if you don’t reform our marijuana laws through the legislature, we the people will do it for you.”

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