Medical Marijuana Whats Next

In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Douglas County will no longer file criminal cases for simple marijuana possession offenses, effective immediately, District Attorney Charles Branson announced Thursday.

This decision was made based on similar policies in other cities, including Lawrence, Wichita and Kansas City, Missouri, Branson said in a news release. It allows courts and law enforcement to focus on “more serious issues,” according to the press release.

In March 2019, the Lawrence City Commission voted to lower fines for first-time marijuana offenses to $1, inspired by a similar ordinance in Wichita

“I do not feel it is fair or just for Douglas County to criminally charge citizens with something they can do with virtually no penalty in the City of Lawrence and other surrounding communities,” Branson said in the release.

Possession is still illegal under federal and Kansas state laws, as well as in most Kansas towns. Possession or cultivation with the intent to distribute will be prosecuted at the discretion of the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.

“For those with addiction issues, jail sentences are ineffective,” Branson said. “As a community, we have to focus on better treatment methods and reducing financial barriers to those seeking treatment."