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Kansas City strips marijuana possession from city code

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City will no longer punish people for marijuana possession, effectively decriminalizing it throughout much of the city.

City council members voted 9-4 on Thursday to strip the crime from the city code, The Kansas City Star reported.

The change does not legalize its recreational use or change Missouri law. Users can still be charged for possession by county prosecutors who decide to pursue those cases.

Kansas City residents voted overwhelmingly in 2017 to eliminate jail time for possession of fewer than 35 grams of marijuana, limiting penalties to an ordinance violation and $25 fine.

In Jackson County, prosecutor Jean Peters Baker had already pledged to stop charging most people for possession. But in parts of Kansas City that lie in Clay, Platte and Cass counties, people could still face state possession charges.

Kansas City’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which led the 2017 campaign, urged prosecutors in Clay, Platte and Cass counties to join Jackson County prosecutors in not charging low-level marijuana offenses.

“Statewide reforms on this issue are needed so that we don’t have a patchwork of laws that more harshly impact some over others,” said Jessica Kelly, the group’s spokeswoman in Kansas City.

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