This Missouri county is changing marijuana prosecution policy after vote

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office says they will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases, with some exceptions.

This comes as voters in Missouri last week supported a Constitutional Amendment to legalize medical use of marijuana.

“Voters were discerning in considering the issue,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Baker said.

They rejected two lesser proposals, she noted, but voted in convincing numbers in support of one measure, Constitutional Amendment 2, on the Nov. 6 ballot.

In Jackson County on Nov. 6, 2018, Amendment 2 won even stronger support, with three of four Jackson County voters in favor. Across the state, the amendment passed with 66 percent of voters’ approval. Missouri follows 30-plus other states in some form of legalization of marijuana.

Baker said that mandate from voters is directing this shift in their office.

“This changing attitude toward marijuana is something we have been seeing anecdotally from our juries for some time,” Baker said.

Exceptions to Jackson County’s new policy on prosecution of marijuana possession will be cases in which facts show the person is selling or distributing the drug without proper authority. For example, the office will still evaluate for prosecution cases where the offender is found to be in possession of items that are routinely associated with the illegal sale or distribution of marijuana, such as individually packaged bags of the drug, a scale or large of cash or firearms.

The Prosecutor’s Office will continue to prosecute cases in which the possession of marijuana results in drugged driving or where possession of marijuana results in harm to a child.

Baker also announced that her office will undertake two public safety awareness campaigns in Jackson County.

The first will warn caregivers to keep packaged edible marijuana away from children as some states have seen increased incidents of children ingesting marijuana, otherwise they may face prosecution.

The second will focus on “drugged driving,” stressing that marijuana users cannot drive under the influence – that remains illegal.

“Voters spoke very clearly and overwhelmingly,” Baker stated. “But we need to keep the drug – like any drug – away from the kids, and driving while high is a serious crime that puts us all at risk.”

The prosecutor’s office also noted that the actions of the Jackson County’s Prosecutor’s Office have no impact on federal policy, which makes possession of marijuana a crime.