Kansas AG candidates criticize Wichita’s recent marijuana decriminalization — here’s why

The Wichita City Council recently gave the green light to marijuana possession within city limits, making Kansas’ largest city the least restrictive on cannabis possession in the state.

The decriminalization measure aims to reduce arrests and prosecutions of marijuana users without legalizing it. As of today (Friday), the city will no longer be pursuing cannabis cases, The Wichita Eagle reported.

While Wichita police could still arrest people for cannabis possession or use it as a reason to search their property, Sedgwick County Attorney Marc Bennett would have to file criminal charges.

Attorney general candidate Kris Kobach’s stance on legalizing marijuana is clear — he wants it to remain illegal.

The GOP official recently said that the Wichita City Council’s latest move “sends out a message that marijuana is okay,” adding that that’s not the “message I want to send my kids.”

Kobach’s Democratic opponent, the AG candidate Chris Mann, was not enthusiastic about the council’s move either. He said lawmakers must address the issue statewide, not locally.

“I don’t think a patchwork of local regulations is going to help because it just shifts the issue from county court to district court,” Mann said. “I think we need a nationwide solution, if there’s to be one.”

The two candidates crossed paths Thursday while attending their first one-on-one forum hosted by the Wichita Metro Crime Commission.

Photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

Opposing views on MMJ legalization

While they agreed on the issue of legalizing marijuana, the two Kansas officials have opposing views on medicinal cannabis, as Kansas is one of the few states that doesn’t have a comprehensive MMJ law.

Kobach’s anti-legalization stance is based on the fear that medical access to cannabis would “automatically be abused”.

RELATED: Kansas Democrats unveil plan to put marijuana legalization on 2022 ballot

He’s adamantly opposed because “then you end up legalizing something that becomes a Pandora’s box because no state that has a law allowing medical marijuana could limit it to purely medical cases.”

On the other hand, Mann would prefer “well-regulated, state-level medical marijuana.”

RELATED: Support for drug decriminalization on the rise among GOP voters, new poll shows how much

“The Legislature hasn’t made a decision on this yet, but if they do decide to do so, we need to put in some safeguards,” Mann said. “We need to make sure we protect vulnerable populations and our children. We need more drug help, and we need money to go to law enforcement.”

legal marijuanaPhoto by Olena Ruban/Getty Images

Gov. Laura Kelly wants MMJ legalized

Meanwhile, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) continues to push for political reform. Earlier this year, she signed legislation allowing Kansans to receive prescription drugs derived from cannabis products.

“I find [MMJ legalizaition] It’s a good starting point for us,” said Kelly in Louisburg after an event celebrating the freeway expansion. “Let that infrastructure be built in such a way that we can regulate it the way it needs to be regulated and make sure we implement it in a productive way.”

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