City in Kansas considers reducing first- and second-time marijuana possession fines to $1

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The city of Lawrence, Kansas, is looking to make it so that a marijuana possession fine costs less than a cup of coffee for first and second time offenders, writes Brandon Hicks.

The proposed $1 possession fine would replace their current $200 penalty, as well as a $63 court fee. Those charged under the current regulations also have to undergo a court evaluation, which comes with additional costs.

The reduced fine would apply to first and second time offenders 18 years and older, who are found to be in possession of 32 grams or less of marijuana. It would also eliminate all court evaluation costs.

City council warns that this shouldn’t be considered a de facto legalization. The arrest will still go on one’s personal record as a misdemeanor charge, and a third offence will still be considered a felony and come with significant penalties. It is for this reason that the Lawrence city commissioner Stuart Boley announced his opposition to the measure this week.

“I think we are lulling people into a false confidence that they can do this with impunity when they are still facing a felony charge on the third time, so I can’t support lowering the fine,” Boley told NBC news.

For the city’s mayor Lisa Larsen, however, she city wants to bring some “reasonable and equitable justice” into their cannabis policy.

A second reading and a final vote is still necessary before the ordinance is officially changed.

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