Prosecutors defend harsh marijuana laws by claiming that marijuana sales are generally associated with violent crime. However, according to data collected by the Kansas Sentencing Commission, this is not true.
Scott Schultz, Executive Director of the Kansas Sentencing Commission, testified in favor of H.B. 2049, a bill that will reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana from one year in jail and a $2500 fine, down to six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine. The bill will also reduce the penalty for a second offense from a felony to a class A misdemeanor.
Schultz stated that prosecutors’ claims of marijuana offenses being linked to violent crime are anecdotal, and that the data collected by the state shows that marijuana offenses are not linked to violent crime.
According to Schultz’ testimony, in 2015, in Kansas, there were 931 convictions for marijuana offenses, and in 916 of those convictions, there was no associated person felony, which means that only 1.6% of the marijuana convictions in the state were associated with violent crime.
The bill to reduce the penalties passed the Senate yesterday, and is expected to become law after the House debates further amendments.