Kansas AG Still Looking at Joining Suit Against Amendment 64

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and family.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and family.

Late last week Oklahoma and Nebraska filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court to halt Colorado's implementation of Amendment 64. Basically, both states say they are tired of dealing with marijuana that crosses the border. In the suit, they claim that Colorado cannabis ties up law enforcement agencies and is wreaking havoc on police and state trooper budgets. And now it seems another neighbor to the east is mulling jumping on the bandwagon.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has been debating whether to sue Colorado for months, according to his staff. Jennifer Rapp, spokeswoman for Schmidt, told KMBC News that Schmidt is still "weighing his options." See also: Nebraska and Oklahoma to Coloradans Who Voted for Amendment 64: Go to Hell

That Kansas would consider suing Colorado shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the increasing number of Colorado drivers pulled over as they enter Kansas. A 2013 report showed that 79 of the 133 felony pot trafficking cases in Kansas stem from Colorado weed. Herb grown in California accounted for about 35 percent.

A checkpoint in Nebraska.
A checkpoint in Nebraska.

Not all lawmakers in Kansas would welcome the suit, though. In September, state Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Tea Party conservative, called the current federal policy against cannabis a failure and said that Colorado was right to push the issue. "We've had a federal policy in this country since the Nixon administration that doesn't seem to be working," he explained. "We've spent over a trillion dollars on it. With that said ... we do have states that have started to work with different policies as it relates to legalization, and I think it would be prudent for us to take a step back, watch what happens in these states before we determine how we want to change federal policy."

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The irony is rich, as an editorial in the Kansas City Kansan this week points out that while both Nebraska and Oklahoma are conservative states, Kansas has been particularly proud of its resistance to federal demands when it comes to Obamacare and K-8 education, saying it's all for state's rights. So Kansas should respect Colorado's decision and mind its own business, the editorial concludes.

No matter what AG Schmidt decides, Kansas is definitely a state to avoid if you're carrying cannabis on you. Any amount on a first offense can get you a full year in jail and $2,500 in fines -- and judges love exercising their right to throw you in the slammer, according to Kansas-based attorney Cal Williams. "There's a range from 25 grams to 450 grams, and even for someone with no record, a conviction could carry 46 to 51 months in a penitentiary," he tells Westword. Even possession of paraphernalia can (and will) net you up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines. Have a tip? Send it to marijuana@westword.com.


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