There is a growing movement in the United States towards recreational marijuana, medicinal marijuana, and the decriminalization of marijuana. In fact, 28 states now have some form of legal cannabis. Houston is the most recent city to enact a more sensible marijuana policy. The Houston Business Journal reports, “Beginning March 1, the new program will allow first-time misdemeanor offenders with less than 4 ounces of marijuana to take a drug education class instead of going through the court system… they will not be arrested, will not have a criminal record and will not face jail time.”
Decriminalization is designed to strengthen the judicial process. Police will use fewer resources on nonviolent crimes. The court system will be less clogged with petty marijuana charges, and the jails will be less crowded. The policy change may save the tax payers of Houston millions of dollars. “We have spent in excess of $250 million, over a quarter-billion dollars, prosecuting a crime that has produced no tangible evidence of improved public safety,” said current District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Houston’s move to reduce marijuana penalties adds onto previous legislation. In early 2016, Harris County took steps to decriminalize marijuana. Former District Attorney Devon Anderson made the resolution clear last year, “The objective, she said, is to give nonviolent drug users a chance to avoid a conviction. It also saves jail space and court resources.” Advocates of the new law say this will help Houston.
Some are celebrating the new law as a smarter way to deal with nonviolent drug offenders. Families are often torn apart when sons and daughters are arrested for possessing marijuana. Instead of treating them as criminals, the state can focus on rehabilitation. Professor Rosalie Pacula, co-director of the Drug Policy Research Center explained to the Christian Science Monitor, “...in California and Arizona, for instance, all non-violent drug offenders are automatically diverted to treatment programs.”
The policy change in Houston will have widespread impacts. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. Other cities will observe how the law is enacted, and see if the law brings about positive change. If so, other cities may use Houston as a reason to enact their own form of marijuana decriminalization. For example, the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri will vote to reduce marijuana penalties on April 4th.
Kansas City voters prepare for the School and Special Election, April 4th. The election will have sweeping impacts for Kansas City’s School Districts, infrastructure spending, and the decriminalization of marijuana. An official sample ballot can be found here: sample ballot.
Missouri voter law requires all potential voters to register at least 4 weeks prior to the next election. If you want to vote in the upcoming election on April 4th, you have to register to vote by March 8th. There is less than one week to register.
All online and physical voter registration documents must be in the local election authority’s hands by end of business, March 8th. You can register to vote at the DMV for instant verification by Missouri Secretary of State. Physical voter registration cards can be mailed or hand-delivered to the Kansas City Board of Elections.
You can also register to vote in Missouri online, here.
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Wednesday March 8, 2017 is last day to register to vote in the April 4, 2017 School and Special Election - KANSAS CITY BOARD of ELECTION COMMISSIONERS
The campaign to reduce marijuana penalties, YES on 5 KC encourages KCMO voters to register before the deadline, March 8th. Visit www.yeson5kc.com to learn more about absentee voting, voter registration, voter status.