Archive for Saturday, October 22, 2005

City officials to debate moving marijuana cases to Municipal Court

October 22, 2005


Laura Green thinks the community has a lot to gain by treating first-time marijuana offenders with a kinder, gentler attitude.

The executive director of the Lawrence-based Kansas Drug Policy Forum soon will find out if city commissioners agree. Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting are scheduled to debate an ordinance that would allow first-time marijuana offenders to be tried in Municipal Court instead of Douglas County District Court. Green said the ordinance should free up the time of prosecutors and police officers to tackle other crime issues.

"My expectation is that this is really going to reduce the man hours we spend processing people," Green said. "It will give us more time to address other issues. Lawrence still has many issues of violent crime that we can address."

Cases in the city's Municipal Court generally are resolved quicker and with fewer appearances than those in District Court.

But the new ordinance also would make life a little easier for people caught with a joint or a small amount of marijuana. Fines - ranging from zero to $2,500 - would remain the same, but the new ordinance would make it less likely that offenders would have to pay a $400 state fee that covers the cost of a laboratory to test the marijuana so that it can be presented as evidence in court.

University students also could rest a little easier. A conviction of marijuana possession in Municipal Court wouldn't trigger a federal provision that could cause students to lose their financial aid.

That point alone has some city commissioners willing to support the proposed ordinance.

"That's a pretty harsh penalty for a first-time offender," City Commissioner Mike Rundle said.

The proposed ordinance, though, doesn't go as far as some communities, like Columbia, Mo. In that community, city commissioners directed police officers to make marijuana possession a low-enforcement priority. Green had asked Lawrence commissioners to consider a similar policy, but they rejected the idea in September when the issue was first presented.

Green said her groups planned on monitoring the number of marijuana possession cases the city dealt with, and may come to the city at a later time for reconsideration on the enforcement issue.

"If it appears the ordinance is being abused, we'll be back to talk to commissioners again," Green said.

Mayor Boog Highberger said he thought the city should keep an open mind about directing police to make marijuana possession a lower enforcement priority.

"I think it is something we should discuss," Highberger said. "I'm not sure putting a lot of energy into this is the best use of our resources."

Highberger also said he thought moving the cases to Municipal Court made sense. City staff members surveyed six area communities - Overland Park, Olathe, Topeka, Wichita, Manhattan and Salina - about how they dealt with marijuana cases. All but Salina allowed first-time offenders to be tried in Municipal Court. Among those cities that tried cases in Municipal Court, all but Overland Park set minimum fines at zero and maximum fines at $2,500. Overland Park set a minimum fine of $250 with a maximum of $2,500.

Staff members said Lawrence commissioners also could set a minimum fine that the judge must hand out. But Highberger said he would lobby against that.

"We have almost no ordinances that have a minimum fine," Highberger said. "We should leave it up to the judge. There are some circumstances that would call for a serious fine and some that may not call for one much at all."

Commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


dex 12 years, 6 months ago

how many times is the ljworld going to use this stock photo from columbia, mo?

cowboy 12 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence needs to move into the current century on marijauna . There is a ton of time and resources wasted on pot possession chargfes not to mention the police and DA's charging simple offenders as distributors when they have more than one small package of pot on them.

I personally am very anti drug but feel the long term intrusion into a young persons life over a minor offense causes more trouble than its worth. They are usually in court for over a year , are forced to go thru the worthless "drug counseling industry " present in Lawrence , and lose thier ability to educate themselves after they clear the court system and smarten up.

Any scientist of learning theory will agree the best time to punish is at the time of the offense. Make them spend a day or two in jail immediately then hand out a simple fine and let everyone get on with life.

cowboy 12 years, 6 months ago

most of your kids are using , it could happen to any of them , open your eyes !

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

The idiocy reigns as usual.

Tobacco is legal in Lawrence-- only smoking in places of employment is prohibited. The proposed changes in the marijuana law do not legalize or decriminalize it, and driving under the influence of any drug, legal or illegal, will not be legalized.

BTW, these commissioners are also repealing the balloon law, and the problems with the sewers in the NW have been years in the making, most of those when commissioners bought and paid for by builders and developers were on the commission.

OK, back to you idiots. Tell us how the sky is falling some more.

ryanjasondesch 12 years, 6 months ago

It IS ok to smoke pot, and I don't need a bunch of moralists and government officials telling me otherwise. I'll make that decision for myself thank you. "If you do the crime, pay the time?" Maybe it shouldn't be a crime. It should be if someone is doing it while driving, just like alcohol. But come on, seriously this is one less thing Americans need to be worrying about in our worry-obsessed culture. "What, pot is dangerous? OH NO LOOK OUT HERE IT COMES!" Please. I applaud this action being taken here, but its only a stepping stone action (I slay myself sometimes). Get this issue back into the home and out of government interference into mine.

I hear all this talk about family values legislation, but that only sidesteps the fact that parents need to do the family values thing in their own home. Where's the "Pick yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality so often adored by Republicans that is forgotten when they legislate to protect me from myself? I am no Republican, but I have many strong conservative views, and this issue is an important conservative one for me. If you think that pot is bad, or that's it's the most awful thing in the world, that's fine, teach your kids that, they'll benefit from honesty and consistency. But you don't need the governemnt to tell you that, and I don't either. I'm not saying I'm gonna allow my kids (note: none yet) to smoke pot when they're 12, but college is a different thing altogether, either way it should be my decision, not anyone else's here, and definetly not the government.

moveforward 12 years, 6 months ago

The law that takes away student loans from convicted felony drug users is possibly the most prejudice on the books. It is a law rooted in keeping the poor in their place.

If there is one thing all Americans should stand for it is the ability to pull yourself out of a tough upbringing and make a better life for yourself... especially though higher education. Taking that away for getting caught smoking a joint is ludicrous.

This is far from "give(ing) her teenagers wacky weed" or "give(ing) the old, wink, wink, nod nod, that pot smoking is ok" (as if we don't do that with alcohol). This is about the reconciliation of a terrible federal law.

I loved Ron, but the memory of Nancy Reagan spouting "just say no" with a martini ni her hand is as hypocritical as it gets.

Kaw Pickinton 12 years, 6 months ago

Wait! Lawrence has tougher pot laws than Overland Park, Olathe, Topeka, Wichita, and Manhattan?

moveforward 12 years, 6 months ago

Hey Macon... are you really equating pot smoking with murder? Can you really be that simple minded?

How many 10 - 15 year olds do you know that have thought much about college or paying for it... much less know about this law. And this is not a liberal/conservative issue... this is about the right to make a better life for yourself... the very foundation of American freedom and liberty.

lunacydetector 12 years, 6 months ago

ryanjasondesch, perhaps you have a classic case of denial.

don't the majority of people who go into psychology/psychiatry do it so they can figure themselves out? no need to answer this one.

ryanjasondesch 12 years, 6 months ago

"Or if they had a student loan, wouldn't it make sense not to do drugs "

On what basis, considering I smoked pot in college and graduated with a 3.5 GPA, took the LSAT and did really well. The idea that anyone on drugs is a crazed murdering criminal is the stuff of 1930's propoganda, and I'm surprised anyone breathing air today would even suggest a link between marijuana use and violent crime. That link doesn't exist, and suggesting it does certainly doesn't give any validity to that issue, NEXT! However, that link DOES exist with alcohol.

Most kids are NOT aware of this law, and even if they were, it would not affect rates of use any more than the very fact that it is illegal at all. If the threat of arrest does not deter pot use, what difference in the world would the threat of not getting financial aid in college make? Just because someone smokes pot does not make them inept. It's a ridiculous law, period. Hell, I say don't stop at changing the charge to a municipal one, let's get rid of the law disallowing first time offenders from financial aid.

ryanjasondesch 12 years, 6 months ago

Biffy? WTF? Now I see you're trying to link casual pot use with using and dealing 'hard' drugs. There are millions, that is 10's of MILLIONS of people in this country who use pot, and not even close to that use harder drugs. Most people who use marijuana do not go onto harder things. Macon, your argument is called a slippery slope, saying that pot will lead to cocaine, jail, etc. Most users will never see the inside of a prison. And for God's sake man, no one is saying anything about giving pot the kids, or even allowing it to go on in one's home. It should be up to the individual and his/her household. The essential bottomline issue is not drug use, it is freedom.

olmsted78 12 years, 6 months ago

How is it that people still think this is a legalization issue? If it was about legalization then I could understand some of the griping and giant leaps to moral assumptions-- but it is not. It would be much more worthwhile to focus on the policy at hand, instead of turning this into the obligatory legalization or anti-legalization style rhetoric. Legalization is just simply not the issue (this time)--

jesusandseth 12 years, 6 months ago

1)Regarding financial aid, the article says one COULD lose there aid, not definitely would.
2)Commissioner Rundle's comment "for a first-time offender," is short sighted.When you break the law that makes you an offender, not getting caught.It is possible, but improbable the persons first offense with pot is the same time they get caught. 3)I grew up in Lawrence.I am a Christian, and believe it is wrong to be high,as it is to be drunk (Romans 13:13, Proverbs 20:1). I use to use drugs however, and I and others once were caught.A policeman pulled us over during lunch time.He took the pot, and the pop can pipe we made.He told us to give him all we had.I had some,but didn't want to lose my weed, so I was silent.He let us go, I with my pot, to smoke again.I was a somphmore at LHS.I smoked through high school and college. I had a habit, and the policeman who caught us (boys and girls, all regular users, unchanged), failed to do his job. My parents believe so, and I would be sad if his boss didn't think so too. If the city police and officials think he otherwise I would like to hear it "on the record." 4)I'm not sure that the force(or maybe it's those who influence them, I don't know)is concerned this.I have seen members of our community smoking in public. Once a young man put a large amount in a lunch bag in broad daylight right off mass. I called the police with his description,the car's.He drove off as I waited ten minutes for the police.The offender was gone.Maybe they couldn't get there sooner, but I have called them more than once. Sometimes I was the only one who ended up talking to the offender(s) at the scene of the crime.
4)I am amazed at the disregard of many people, especially youth, for authorities. I mean police, and government, but the same is true of parents, pastors, teachers.I don't think the government is going to save us, but I am saddened and amazed at the general disobediance to Law and Government.We speed regularly, break fire codes,smoke marijuana,skip school.Just last night I saw to guys smoking pot walking down mass.A year ago a worker in the burger king drive through was excited to close, and get high.My neighbor, who borrowed my landlord's lawn mower asked if I was drug friendly. I ignored his first reference to growing weed, but when he asked outright I said,"No.Not at all." There is a disconnect between many people and the government and laws of our land, which in part are the laws "of the people." It is a great disconnect between us and our neighbors.Some of the people seperated from these work directly for the very systems they disobey in heart and practice. This is bad. "A kingdom divided against itself will fall." It sure looks to me like we all need the life and forgiveness of JESUS, the true King.

Thanks for reading this,

seth toebben

olmsted78 12 years, 6 months ago

Yes, yes what criminals they are indeed. Often the violent type. Fill up the prisons, yes, good idea. well played!

ryanjasondesch 12 years, 6 months ago

People who dislike others simply because they're pot smokers are a nuisance to society. And if Jesus were alive today, he'd probably smoke a joint with me and tell me all these idiots today have got him all wrong. Poor guy, he came to spread a measage and his own followers coulnd't have messed it up worse. And now below this post shall follow the comments of the philistines and other general elements of society that are of true nuisance.

Hey Kline, ever had a speeding ticket? More than 2? If so, then off to jail with you. Disregard of the law is a cafeteria, everyone's there to eat, it just depends on what you put on your plate.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

In the words of a Cheech and Chong routine, "I used to be all messed up drugs, now I'm all messed up on God."

cowboy 12 years, 6 months ago

Good one bozo ! I think you are all missing an important point , It isn't about whether it is right or wrong . , it is what happens and what is actually effective in either stopping the behavior , or gettting these dumb kids smart enuf not to smoke pot where they will get caught until they mature and put it down.

I've had a kid go thru this and I tell ya , it is a long and tiresome road which wastes a lot of county money , judges time , probation officers time , family money for the most inneffective "treatment" I have ever seen , ( I was a mental health professional ).

Take these kids out and whack em good right when they get caught , the current system is a complete waste of time and money !

lunacydetector 12 years, 6 months ago

do dope smokers go through bouts of mania? aren't most (if not all) dope smokers manic depressives ??

every dope smoker i've ever met eventually has to go through major counseling some even institutional rehabilitation. it might not happen when you're a young college punk, but it will get you sooner or later in life.

the first thing that goes will be your memory.

...and ryanjasondesch, if you truly had a 3.5 GPA, surely you wouldn't be taking macon47 out of context. i for one don't believe it.

...and olmsted78, explain why so many pot smokers have mental problems. if it ain't manic/depression it is ADD.

lunacydetector 12 years, 6 months ago

correction: i shouldn't have directed my last part to olmsted78.

jesusandseth 12 years, 6 months ago

Jason, I think you are correct. We do all disregard the law to greater and lesser extents. This is not good, and speaks to the fact that we generally disregard what is right (not speaking specifically of the government and laws) for what is wrong. We all want and do what is wrong. That is why we need JESUS' death on the cross. He said himself, he came for the sick, and to save that which is lost.

You might not believe, but that's good news.

Another friend of sinners,

seth toebben

ryanjasondesch 12 years, 6 months ago

How I took him out of context I don't see your point or if you have one. Shall I send you my transcript? Come on.

Your point on every pot smoker you know has gone to counseling, well my experience is completely opposite. I myself have never needing it, and the 90% of my friends who have smoked and those who still do, guess what, about 1 or 2 have gone, and it wasn't for pot (family issues, trauma, loss of loved one, etc.). I know people that have smoked for 20+ years, and they're fine. The problem you make for me is in what you say, it's a correlation YOU'VE seen in pysch problems and pot use. That in no way indicates causation. It's what we in the psychology field call an illusory correlation. It's easy to see it, doesn't mean there's any real connection there. Those you know may have already had problems to begin with. Maybe that's even why they turned to pot, but pot is not the problem (but some cases in doesn't help). In some cases pot is the only thing that leveled someone out, things like Prozac were not effective. You seem to like to diagnose people, and then generalize it you entire groups of people. From where do you get your expertise I might ask?

ryanjasondesch 12 years, 6 months ago

jesusandseth: Didn't Jesus himself ask, "What is Truth?" I believe in good and bad, not so much right and wrong. I believe right and wrong is up the individual, and it varies over time. There are no absolutes. I applaud your faith, but I abhor any conviction that presents a black and white world. Pot use is not wrong, but for some it may be bad. And I do not believe Jesus is the panacea of all ills. He was a great man, one of the best in history, but he was only a man. He had one of the greatest philosophies I've ever encountered, but he was only building upon precedent and paradigm (this in no way diminishes his accomplishments). I find nothing in his teachings that would oppose marijuana. In fact I would go so far to say that if Jesus is the son of God, and God created the earth, and all the plants upon it, that he would approve of the use of marijuana as part of an overall experience of the glory he created. Alas, I do not believe in Biblical Creation, but I do not detract from its importance today. Just saying, those that say flat out that pot is wrong or evil, that's of one's opinion, other than that it means nothing.

jesusandseth 12 years, 6 months ago


In a dialogue with Pontious Pilate JESUS said, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." It was Pilate that then replied, "What is truth?" (John 18:37,38)

JESUS said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the FATHER except through me." (John 14:6) It is logical in that there being only one GOD, that there would be only one way of salvation.

C.S. Lewis made the remark in his classic work Mere Christianity, "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41.)

In Peter's first letter (1 Peter 4:3-7) he writes against many immoralities (drunkenness being one of them), and follows with the statement that we out to be sober minded for the purpose of prayer. The point is that not being clear minded (certainly the effect of being "high," if you argue this, think back to the first time you smoked pot) gets in the way of seeing things right, and ultimatly fellowshipping with GOD in a way that He accepts.

These are three bullet points to deal with the issues you raised. JESUS fully knew what was going on with Him (John 13:1), even through His death. On the cross He said, "FATHER forgive them, for they know not what they do." May He say this for you as well. Come to Him.

For Him,

seth toebben

Judgement_Angel 12 years, 6 months ago

So So So...Lawrence is actually getting wise about things. You people out there who think that pot is "BAD" are ones that most likely enjoyed the green in there prime days of there own lifes. You know that pot is less harmfull to you than drinking. How many times do you see people going to funnerals because there friends liver failed them or they beat there family and friends up because they were high...Not really ever...But with alcohol that proves to be true. All those stupied commericals about how my brother killed because I was high and I was picking my nose or some crap like that.. Ha...Please I think punishing someone because of some pot is such a waste of my freaking dollars. I pay the lawrence police depts pay checks...I think they can find something better do with their times. People need to really think about how pot isnt such a bad thing. And for all those other people who think it is..Well really sit down and think about what other things you do in everyday life that if you really thought about it would not be good for you either. Gambling, drinking, driving with seatbelts...those are all harmful things to but you still do them don't you..I hate to think of so many people who just can't see how this law would give people another chance instead of screwing their lives up just over a little green...

---Judgement Angel

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