Mike Linksvayer

Kansas Reduces Cannabis Possession Penalties

Kansas lawmakers approved a measure reducing marijuana possession jail sentences for first-time offenders and no longer charging second-time offenders with a low-level felony, according to an AP report.

First-time offenders will now serve no more than six months in jail, reduced from one year. Individuals on their ‘second-strike’ now face a year in jail in lieu of a felony charge. Subsequent offenders could serve 10 to 42 months in prison, the penalty under the current law for a second offense.

The bill easily passed both chambers of the Legislature in April; 38-0 in the House and 96-23 in the Senate.

The original proposal included provisions for legalizing hemp oil to treat seizure disorders, and authorized industrial hemp research. The House passed that version but it was stripped by the Senate. The House version was designed to reduce the state’s prison population by reclassifying first-time possession charges.

The enacted Senate version also increases prison time for burglary of an occupied dwelling from 31 months to 38 months. As passed, the Department of Corrections estimates it will reduce 32 adult beds in the state prison system for the next fiscal year.

The bill is expected to be signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

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