KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With recreational marijuana now on the ballot in Missouri come November, there is a growing question of how Kansas will respond.
Currently Kansas lawmakers are working on medical cannabis legislation but, simply put, marijuana remains illegal in the state.
So the ban remains in place while neighbor Missouri prepares for anticipated open season at spots like the From The Earth dispensary on Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri.
That dispensary is less than a quarter mile away from the Kansas state line.
Currently you need a medical card to buy marijuana in Missouri but if the ballot initiative passes it would allow anyone over 21 to buy weed. So there are questions on how the state of Kansas and border cities may respond.
There is real excitement for the recreational ballot question at From The Earth’s Independence location and not just because it would open up sales to the public.
“Non-violent cannabis crimes will be expunged and that’s going to be the first time that’s ever been voted by the American people,” Tyler Diltz, vice president of retail for From the Earth, said.
Meanwhile in Kansas it’s the flip side. Statutorily, marijuana is illegal. If someone comes into the state and gets caught with marijuana that person could be charged with a criminal offense.
But there are signs that cannabis laws are loosening in Kansas.
State Sen. Robert Olson, a Republican from Olathe, said that medical marijuana legislation could be introduced as soon as November saying: “If we pass medical marijuana it’s going to be a big step. It’s going to happen but it has to be done right.”
But Kansas Democrats say the issue has been ignored by Republicans. In addition, marijuana legalization advocacy group NORML had strong words as well saying: “If Kansas officials witness their neighbor overwhelmingly vote to approve legalization, as Missouri appears to be set to do, and their reaction is to simply put more otherwise law-abiding individuals in jail for possessing a plant, they are only going to bring harm to themselves and their state.”
And even if Kansas passes medical marijuana legislation, Missouri-sold recreational marijuana would still be illegal in Kansas. There is also still a question on how police will handle this situation when people cross the state line and how aggressively authorities may move on enforcement.
This is not the first time Kansas has gone through this. Colorado has for a long time been a recreational state. But the Western border of Kansas is somewhat less developed when compared to the eastern side – so there will likely be a difference in how this situation is tackled.