Over the past 20 years, there have been a lot of changes in the law around cannabis. Missouri and some other states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Others have legalized it for recreational purposes, and there is a whole booming industry built around cannabis in these states. Meanwhile, in Kansas, pot remains illegal for any purpose, and federal law continues to prohibit it.
As a result, the map of the United States looks something like a patchwork quilt, as far as marijuana laws go. A person can be engaging in legal activity in one state, and then find themselves in serious legal jeopardy once they cross a state border.
The confusion doesn’t end there. Prosecution of cannabis charges can sometimes look very different from county to county, or even from different sides of a city’s limits.
City and county
Under Missouri’s medical marijuana system, users must have a state medical marijuana card. If they are found in possession of marijuana without a card, they may face possession charges from state prosecutors.
Meanwhile, officials in some jurisdictions, such as Kansas City, have stated that they will no longer prosecute relatively low level cannabis possession charges. This has led to much controversy. Some police and other law enforcement officials say it’s not the place of district attorneys to decide which types of laws they should or should not enforce. Others have praised the idea, saying it frees resources for local communities and avoids ruining the lives of people convicted of nonviolent crimes.
To confuse matters even further, most of Kansas city is within the jurisdiction of Jackson County, but part of the city limits fall under Clay, Cass and Platte counties. Prosecutors in Jackson County have said they will no longer prosecute low-level pot possession charges, but other counties feel differently.
Get a map
Given all this confusing backdrop, one of the most important tools for the defense strategy in a Kansas City pot possession case may be a simple city map.
Those who have been accused of pot possession or other drug crimes can speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about all their options. An attorney can help them understand the complexities of the law and the prosecution, and work to defend their rights.