Secretary of State Kris Kobach has the power to remove the marijuana reform initiative from Wichita’s ballot, and is planning to do just that, according to an anonymous government source. The Wichita City Council approved a ballot initiative to reduce the penalties for small amounts of marijuana, after petitioners gathered over 3,000 signatures from registered voters.
This means that voters will get to decide whether or not to reduce the penalty from a misdemeanor to an infraction, making first offense possession of marijuana (under an ounce) a fifty dollar fine, with no jail time or probation.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has threatened to sue the City of Wichita if the voters approve the penalty reduction. Schmidt has been tied to the movement to privatize prisons. Private prisons are one the largest opponents of any deescalation in the war on drugs, because their business model relies on the mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.
The ballot will not be finalized until March 17th, and the Wichita City Council has stated that they will not reverse their decision to respect the voter’s will on this issue. If the state removes the question from the ballot, activists say they will launch “massive campaigns” against those responsible.