Municipal court officials in Kansas City have dismissed more than 500 pending cannabis-related criminal cases following November’s statewide vote on Amendment 3 to approve a legal regulated marijuana market.
As a result, marijuana possession became legal in Missouri on December 8, 2022 and, as announced by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas on Twitter, the dismissals soon followed even though it is not required by the approved amendment.
Kansas City officials had previously passed a local ordinance depenalizing cannabis possession which led court officials to dismiss more than 2,400 marijuana-related cases. According to one municipal court administrator, the latest move means there are no longer any open cannabis possession cases in the city’s judicial system.
This is true also for cases that involved larger amounts of cannabis since this information has not previously been included in court records.
There are still, however, cannabis cases in Kansas City involving charges of intent to distribute or other more serious offenses, as these are dealt with in circuit courts.
Missouri’s new cannabis laws not only legalize marijuana possession and establish a framework for a legal market, it also compels state and local officials to expunge cannabis-related misdemeanor convictions for all Missourians within a six-month period. The deadline for this is currently set for June 8, 2023.
Those currently incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses in Missouri are now able to petition the courts for resentencing and to have their criminal records expunged as well.
Missouri is one of many states now taking action to redress the harms of cannabis criminalization, which can create difficulties for those with such convictions to access housing, education, and social services.
According to analysis from NORML, state and local officials across America have pardoned more than 100,000 individuals and overseen around 1.7 million expungements for cannabis-related offenses since 2018.
Kansas City also isn’t the only local municipality taking action to reduce or eliminate penalties for cannabis possession. Even in states where marijuana is still criminalized, city and county officials have passed local ordinances that protect millions of residents from criminal sanctions for low-level cannabis possession.