Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City passes marijuana ordinance

First-time offenders to face $200 fine, drug evaluation

March 1, 2006


The penalties are set to change - and in some ways stiffen - for people caught smoking marijuana in Lawrence.

City commissioners on a 3-2 vote Tuesday night passed a new ordinance that will impose a $200 minimum fine for first-time marijuana possession and require offenders to complete a drug evaluation program.

Commissioners approved the new law after the Drug Policy Forum of Kansas - a Lawrence-based group that advocates for fewer penalties for marijuana offenders - asked the city to create an ordinance that would allow first-time marijuana possession cases to be tried in Municipal Court rather than the state's District Court system.

But the advocacy group didn't exactly get what it wanted. The $200 fine, plus a $100 fee for an evaluation program, is more than many first-time offenders pay in Douglas County District Court. There's no minimum fine in District Court, but fines generally range from $25 to $100.

Forum hopes to raise awareness, funds

The Drug Policy Forum of Kansas will continue its lecture series tonight with a speaker and a concert at the Jackpot Saloon, 943 Mass. The forum hopes the party will help raise awareness and funds for its ongoing lecture series about marijuana policy in the city, state and nationally. To kick off the event, High Times founder Ed Rosenthal will speak to the crowd. Later, rock bands Connor and The Ants, among others, will perform. The event starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $5.

"I think the fine is too high," said Laura Green, executive director of the forum. "I'm opposed to the fees because I think this is more of a public health issue."

City Commissioner Mike Rundle and Mayor Boog Highberger agreed. Rundle called marijuana usage a victimless crime, and Highberger said most people who use marijuana "don't have any trouble with it."

"I just don't see any justification for this fine at all," Highberger said.

Both Rundle and Highberger said they were willing to support an alternative ordinance that would have imposed a $100 minimum fine and a mandatory evaluation program.

Other commissioners, though, balked at that proposal.

"This is just a line I have to draw," City Commissioner Sue Hack said. "I don't think $100 is significant enough to discourage people."

The new city ordinance will make it less likely that a marijuana conviction will cause students to lose their federal financial aid. A conviction in Municipal Court does not trigger a federal provision that causes students to have their aid revoked or suspended.

The financial aid provision was a major reasons the Drug Policy Forum pushed for the change. For that reason, Green said she didn't regret pursuing the change. But she said she would be keeping a close eye on how the new city ordinance works.

"If it becomes a revenue-generating source for the city, with traps that are set up to catch people, we will be back to talk to the commission about that," Green said.

The new ordinance won't take effect for at least another two weeks, as city commissioners finalize its passage.

Beautification plan for downtown funded

City commissioners Tuesday unanimously agreed to allocate $90,000 to a downtown beautification plan.

Commissioners told staff to move ahead with a new planting strategy designed to ensure that downtown planters are full of colorful plants during more months of the year. The plan includes the hiring of a new full-time maintenance person to care for downtown plants, along with several part-time employees who would be responsible for weeding and watering.

After hearing from representatives of the publishing industry - including the Journal-World - commissioners directed staff to not move ahead with portions of the plan that would consolidate newspaper racks and establish guidelines for their placement downtown. Instead, commissioners said they wanted staff to discuss the issue in more detail with newspaper representatives.

Funding approved for housing conference

A conference on affordable housing likely will occur sometime in May in Lawrence.

City commissioners unanimously agreed to provide $3,000 in funding for a conference that will help bring all stakeholders in the affordable housing discussion together. The conference is being proposed by the Joint Housing Committee, which is made up of members of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, League of Women Voters and Kaw Valley Living Wage Alliance.

In a related item, Mayor Boog Highberger received permission from city commissioners to create a task force to study the issue of affordable housing. Highberger said he would appoint individuals to the task force at next week's meeting.

Commission delays traffic-calming discussion

Commissioners delayed discussion on a recommendation to add traffic-calming devices along 13th Street between Connecticut Street and Haskell Avenue. Commissioners will discuss the item at next week's meeting, when they will have more time to discuss the issue.

City gives green light to KU bus application

Commissioners unanimously authorized an agreement that will allow Kansas University to apply for Federal Transit Administration funds to purchase five buses for the university's new park and ride system.

The purchase would not require any city funding, but the city needed to sign off on the idea because it is the designated representative to receive FTA funds in this area.

Property sale OK'd near Sport 2 Sport

Commissioners gave tentative approval to sell 1.1 acres of property adjacent to the former Sport 2 Sport complex, 5200 Clinton Parkway, to Mike Elwell for $26,000. Elwell will use the property to expand his new tennis center, which has taken over the indoor space of Sport 2 Sport.

Report to examine employee vehicle use

Commissioners asked for a report in the next month giving more detail on how city vehicles that are allowed to be taken home by city employees are used.

Commissioners received a report on a recommended policy spelling out when vehicles can be taken home, but commissioners wanted to see more information to determine whether there could be cuts in the number of vehicles that are allowed to be taken home.

A report by City Manager Mike Wildgen found that 65 of the city's 168 vehicles are being taken home by employees who are subject to being called back into work after hours. He said a new policy may be able to reduce that number.

Wildgen estimated that the vehicle program resulted in about $70,000 per year in fuel and mileage costs, but City Commissioner Mike Rundle strongly objected to that analysis. He said he though the costs could be about $40,000 higher when depreciation of the vehicles was factored into the equation.


warthog 12 years, 2 months ago

Hey, this is great news! Now that the city will be raking in all those grass greenbacks, maybe they can ante up for some free parking downtown.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Looks like the Corps of the Clueless is out in force this morning.

mefirst 12 years, 2 months ago

"This is just a line I have to draw," City Commissioner Sue Hack said. "I don't think $100 is significant enough to discourage people."

Good point Sue...slapping them with an extra $100 fine will likely be the deterrant you're looking for. Now, what do you suggest we do to deter those pesky murderers who just won't be deterred by life sentences and the death penalty?

How ridiculous. Legalize marijuana, people.

djazz 12 years, 2 months ago

I don't care what they do, or the fine, as I don't inhale or partake.

Great comment there macon47!

dionne 12 years, 2 months ago

Okay, we all knew this was going to happen, so let's get over it. What I am seriously concerned about is the city's approval to allow KU to purchase 5 new buses for a park and ride system. Does anyone realize OR CARE that we already have two bus systems running these students all over town? I don't really give a rat's ass about the T, they are federally funded (and contrary to the city's numbers, there isn't much in the way of ridership), but what about Lawrence Bus Company??? This is a privately owned business, whose primary income is coming from running the KU on Wheels program. Nice looking out for the local businesses there commish - let's just put a BUNCH of people out of work, and destroy a company that has been in this town for about 4 decades!!!! I hope everyone remembers how you all unanimously decided to kill this company! Maybe then we can decide on your penalties.

dionne 12 years, 2 months ago

First of all, dhill00, the article says that it approved Kansas University to buy five new buses, not Lawrence Bus Co - they are NOT one in the same. I don't have any hard facts yet, but what do you think is going to happen if the main source of income for the company is gone? Can you use common sense instead of calling people names?

tpatric 12 years, 2 months ago

$26,000 for 1.1 acres on Clinton Parkway!!! RIDICULOUS!!! The DA needs to look into this transaction. These SOB's have got to go!!! We have got to amend the city charter to create a REAL city council with a REAL mayor!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

That is a pretty low price for 1.1 acres, but it could very well be that they saw it as more cost-effective to help the private endeavor create facilities at that area than to do it themselves. I believe Elwell has agreed to give access to both the city and the university to the facilities.

tpatric 12 years, 2 months ago

Thank you, bozo. A little more information than I had.

Jamesaust 12 years, 2 months ago

I'm glad that David Schauner listened to his constituents (even though it seemed that he did not personally agree).

mcoan 12 years, 2 months ago

TruthLawrence wrote: "a joke on all the news channels"

Give me 3 examples of news channels saying Lawrence is a joke, or even implying it is. Okay, I'll give you a break...2 channels. We both know you can't do even that.

To act like Lawrence is some bastion of progressive politics is such a joke. San Francisco, New Yoirk, Madison, WI, Eugene, OR, Santa Fe, NM, Boulder, CO...these are all places that have much, much, more liberal/progressive policies and govts. than Lawrence. Have you people ever read anything other than the Journal World?

But, I guess if you compare this one Blue town with all of the redneck towns in the rest of the state, we look positiviely communist. But guess what: It's been like that since 1850...we've always been more liberal and accepting than the rest of the state. If we weren't, we wouldn't be growing like we are. We'd be another Manhattan.

It just doesn't make sense: If you don't like progressive politics, why on earth wouldn't you live in one of the 102 counties in Redneckland which are Red instead of one of the two that are blue?

BunE 12 years, 2 months ago

Reefer! It makes you crazy and makes you want to rape and smoke meth.

topflight 12 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Amandak 12 years, 2 months ago

Hoorah for the ordinance working out the way it did. Sounds like those caught in possession will receive a steeper fine than they would originally. I support the supposed original intent--I don't think students should loose federal aid for simple marjuana possession. However, our mayor has once again proved how ignorant he is. Is he so all-knowing that he can state for a fact that most people who use marijuana "don't have any problem with it"? Does he know most people? And, assuming he could possible know most people, does he know all the intircate details of their lives and problems? How ignorant! Boog, you need to go--you are making a joke of this city!!!! And Rundle, what a fool. If marijuana is a victimless crime, so too then is prostitution. Let's open up a brothel downtown. Hey, as long as the women (and men) are engaging in consenual sex for money, what's the problem. There is not victim, right? I'll open one next week and I'll post the address and number!! Thank goodness for Sue Hack--the voice of reason on the commission. Thank you Ms. Hack for being rational. You are a credit to this city!

outoftowner 12 years, 2 months ago

Posted by macon47 (anonymous) on March 1, 2006 at 6:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

unfortuntaly, if we had free parking down town, the lazy merchants and employees would hog all the good spots. then the blonde headed trophy wives in their black suvs from johnson county wouldnt have a place to park so they can burn up their hard working hubbys credit card.

Do I hear sarcasm here? Jealousy maybe?

Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago

  1. Love the new flowers. It will be good for business.

  2. Reefer- Decriminalize and allow users to grow their own. This might open doors to would enable farmers an avenue for growing industrial grade hemp. This product is excellent for paper,clothing,flooring,furniture,rope and other uses.

Alcohol can create many health problems not to mention damage caused by drunk drivers. Drunk driving really needs more attention than reefer use.

  1. City Vehicles - I have read that some communities cut way back on 4X4's and saved an enormous amount on gasoline.

  2. Someone was able to buy a 1.1 acre plot for $26,000. Good for them. The inflated value of a house size plot kinda stinks.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

Elwell getting 1.1 acres of prime land for $28K is a crime! So he says he is going to let the city and KU use it. Is there something in writing that says he can't turn around and sell it to someone else for what it is really worth once he closes on the property? Or is this just another "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" good ole boy deal?

What a crock!

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

Tougher actual penalty, less likelihood of a stupid decision ruining your life.

I'm cool with that.

plainspeaking 12 years, 2 months ago

It's interesting how the posts focus on the "intelligence" (or lack thereof) of the City Commissioners.

Commissioners receive advice, input and recommendations from the City Manager. If this land deal truly stinks, then HE should be held accountable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

If it hadn't been approved by this commission, you'd be applauding the sale of the land to Elwell as working with private enterprise to provide needed services, Godot.

If they say black, you say white-- if they say up, you say down.

I guess that constantly jerking knee doesn't annoy you as much as it does everybody else around you

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 2 months ago

Dionne: As I recall, the Lawrence Bus Company and the student bus service merged over a year ago.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

Bozo wrote, "If it hadn't been approved by this commission, you'd be applauding the sale of the land to Elwell as working with private enterprise to provide needed services, Godot."

Don't even think you can speak for me, Bozo. The city should sell property for the market value, just like anyone else would be expected to do. We expect our commissioners to be good stewards of public assets, to be responsible fiduciaries. Selling 1.1 acres of land in that location for 1/7 of the going price is irresponsible, and is a sweetheart deal for Elwell.

This sale merits a full explanation by the commission, at the minimum, and perhaps an independent investigation to rule out an under-the-table deal. If we can afford to spend money on consultants and studies to figure out how to spend money, then we can afford to spend money on an investigation to figure out where our money went.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Certainly they should provide an explanation. But selling at below market price (that it is below market price is nothing more than speculation, btw) if they are going to get access to services that would cost the city a good deal more than was "lost" in the sale price would mean they are being good stewards and responsible fiduciaries.

And "sweetheart" deals are the stock-in-trade of the good ole boys you want to return to the commission. In that respect, Highberger and Rundle are not cut from the same cloth that someone like Jere is, for example.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

If $26K for 1.1 acres on Clinton Parkway is not below market, then I will definitely use this deal to support the appeal of the valuation on my little 7000 sq ft lot in west lawrence, which was valued at $43,000 last year.

beatrice 12 years, 2 months ago

I'm surprised that the people who cry foul over the smoking ban are the same ones in favor of the continued "ban" on smoking pot, even in the privacy of one's home. Pot isn't the evil it has been made out to be, although it remains illegal because the big drug companies are against any form of unregulated competition. It is all about the drug companies and their highly paid lobbyists, not about the drug. (I would go on, but I'm sure our scholar from Google University will have something to say about pot and big drug companies -- I'll give you a hint: it involves rednecks and red counties!)

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

It appears our mayor and at least one commissioner have determined that the federal law outlawing marijuana use is irrelevant.

What is the stance on USD 501 on the use of pot? Is this addressed in the schools? Does the police department still have an anti-drug use program for school children?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

On the face of it, 1.1 acres probably is "worth" more the $26,000, but from the report we know nothing about that particular piece of land other than the fact that it's adjacent to Elwell's property.

If it's worth more than $26,000, the real question is whether the city is getting any value beyond the money. But Godot will bash this commission for anything and everything, so he won't allow himself to consider anything beyond the superficial and instead go directly to the easiest smear available.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

It's the job of these commissioners to set city policy, not federal or school district policy. This action has absolutely no effect on federal law or school district policies.

wonderhorse 12 years, 2 months ago


I believe it is "The Google University".

Godot--We are USD497.

beatrice 12 years, 2 months ago

TOB: you redneck, it is Google U.! I'm pretty sure University of Google is an actual place in a soviet bloc nation -- it is just that there are accents and diacriticals involving most of the letters, so it doesn't look the same, but it still sounds real close to "goog-al".

and now, "Sweet Leaf" by Black Sabbath:

Alright now!! Won't you listen?

When I first met you, didn't realize I can't forget you, for your suprize You introduced me, to my mind And left me wanting, you and your kind

I love you, oh you know it

My life was empty forever on a down Until you took me, showed me around My life is free now, my life is clear I love you sweet leaf, though you can't hear

Come on now, try it out

Straight people don't know, what your about They put you down and shut you out You gave to me a new belief And soon the world will love you sweet leaf

wonderhorse 12 years, 2 months ago

Bea--Black Sabbath-wonderful. When I get next to one of those cars that only has a bass thump coming out of it, I like to crank my Iron Man way up to compete, although here in Lawrence, Fairies Wear Boots isn't too well accepted.

Shardwurm 12 years, 2 months ago

What's the fine for an illegal car wash?

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

According the Douglas County Appraiser, Elwell purchased the land and building for Sport 2 Sport on 1/1/2006. The land, a little more than 3 acres, was valued at $368,000, or about $122,000 per acre.

Now, just 60 days later, the city offers Elwell the adjacent 1.1 acres for only $26000. How long has this deal been in the works? Who made this decision? Why wasn't it disclosed before it was completed? If the city didn't need this land anymore, why wasn't it put out for bid, for sale to the highest bidder?

Keep this kind of shenanigan in mind when considering whether or not to allow the city to purchase "green space" and "industrial use" space in the future. We should anticipate that the city will purchase land at or above market rate, and turn around and sell it to insiders at a fraction of its value.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

So get right on down there to city hall and hold their feet to the fire, Godot. This looks like the scam of the century, and I'm certain your idle speculation here is exactly and completely all there is to it.

wonderhorse 12 years, 2 months ago


Was that just for the land? Or did it also include the buildings and improvements? Just curious.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

2006 valuation: Land: $368,260; building: $781,740, total $1,150,000.

Kelly Powell 12 years, 2 months ago

You know people if you keep using "redneck" in a deragatory manner, we may just get pissed off....After all, as somebody mentioned, this town is a blue blip on a sea of red.....And if you actually did some research into the history of this town you would find an army of skelotons in our closet.

wonderhorse 12 years, 2 months ago

Wow, I definitely think some 'splainin' needs to be done.

Centrist 12 years, 2 months ago

  1. Smoking was banned in Lawrence public buildings - doesn't matter WHAT you're puffing on.

  2. Our over-priced homes create over-priced property taxes, resulting in fat sums of cash so that the City can "give away" land to whomever they please. It's B.S. ... and one of the many reasons I'm considering leaving this great town.

  3. Marijuana can also be DECRIMINALISED - there's a difference between that and LEGALISED. It should be treated as alcohol is, in my opinion. Smoke it at home all you want, but don't drive or otherwise create a public menace. I wish all 'regular' tobacco was illegal INSTEAD.

  4. Yes, Lawrence is an oasis in a sea of red. But I think we need to get some red in here before the whole town becomes an exclusive club for over-charging-artsy-community-mercantile-types. Yes, Merc people, you know who you are.

  5. Moderation is badly needed in Lawrence, but also in Kansas in general. Lawrence needs to swing a bit to the Right, Kansas a little to the Left. We need a Centrist State!

mcoan 12 years, 2 months ago

Centrist: We HAD a Centrist state, but the Extreme Right took it over and made it the laughingstock of America. Kansas' history has been moderate until about 1988. Remember Nancy Kassebaum and Bob Dole? Moderate Republicans who would be cast as liberals today by the Right Wing Machine.

And, as I said, if you think Lawrence's politics are liberal, you haven't lived anywhere that really is.

Centrist 12 years, 2 months ago

Mcoan, Lawrence isn't all that liberal, no. But it is when it comes to priorities. I'd rather see those bloody roads fixed up than have Dadaism and those god-awful sculptures of dog turds along Mass. St. It's all very well to plant flowers too, but who will fix my car after I crash through all the chunky side streets to get there? :)

It's a shame the Right has taken over KS. It's a nice state and doesn't deserve the negative attention it gets nationally (and as a result, internationally).

And it's a shame these hippies on the Lawrence City Commission haven't heard of the words "Civic Pride" either ... or "proper use of funds" for that matter. I heard they're going to fix 13th St. - AGAIN. I'm guessing all that time spent on it over the last 3 years was wasted, along with the $$$.

Having said all this, I lived overseas for years in a much more socialized place and no, this place really isn't "liberal" by comparison ...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

"I'd rather see those bloody roads fixed up than have Dadaism and those god-awful sculptures of dog turds along Mass. St. It's all very well to plant flowers too, but who will fix my car after I crash through all the chunky side streets to get there? :)"

The Dadaism thing cost maybe the price of a few stamps, and the amount spent on the artful turds(?) and the flowers, while more expensive than the Dadaism thing, won't go very far in repairing roads. Putting things in such an either/or framework is not at all useful.

BTW, 13th hasn't been "fixed" at all over the last three years. The work along the old rail corridor had nothing to do with 13th except where they intersected.

If they didn't have "civic pride," why do you suppose they ran for city commission-- because they like the vacuous grief typified on this forum?

Centrist 12 years, 2 months ago

They ran because they wanted to. No-one expects to be criticised, do they? And we the TAXPAYERS have every right to critique the government that is supposed to serve US.

And you're right - all that work on 13th St. still didn't fix it. And when they did up 31st St. it didn't work. It's as bumpy now as what it was ...

And civic pride is more than flowers and artsy crap. It's about clean streets, good roads, decent schools and tasteful decorations. This year they didn't even bother with Christmas decorations. A few lights wouldn't have hurt, would it?

All I'm saying is that we need a better return for our money. Lawrence is way over-inflated as a market, therefore the property taxes are high. And we're not getting what we paid for.

It's called Responsible government.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Critique all you want-- it doesn't mean the critique is useful.

No, it didn't fix 13th-- it wasn't intended to. The work was for stormwater drainage. And the reason there were no lights was because an electrical problem was discovered-- one that had obviously existed for several years. Or do you think they should have risked electrocuting someone just so you could see pretty lights?

And I'm curious, do you think the roads are now worse than they have been over the past couple of decades? Are there cities that have better roads? Would you be willing to accept a tax increase to have better roads? If not, what would you sacrifice instead of roads (and let's don't go off on roundabouts and flowers-- that wouldn't generate enough capital to significantly improve the roads.)

Centrist 12 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, dude ... you're missing the point.

This City is already raking in some wonderful revenue. I should know - my property taxes went up by 15% this year, and for what??

I don't think our tax dollars are being used correctly. A fine example is the obvious situation in the article today. Why was that prime land sold for a song? Why am I financing an enterprise that will charge for use of its facilities? Will I, John Q Public, have free access to those courts? I doubt it, somehow ... I'm not in school.

And as for that electrical problem? How come a couple of restaurants went ahead and put up their own lights?

Anyway, I've already accepted a tax increase. And there's no Great Plan in place to truly fix this town ... not yet. I doubt it will ever happen. It's not a priority, apparently.

I'm done for today!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

"This means that smoking pot just puts me to sleep."

And that's a bad thing?

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

I've got to hand it to the LJW. They made a headline out of the least important of the topics addressed by the commission.

The headline should have read: "Commissioners cede land to Elwell for fraction of actual value."

or, better yet,

"Elwell rewarded by city for aggressive stand against Topeka thugs."

joemite 12 years, 2 months ago

Pot should be taxed and regulated just like alcohol.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

So should free land gifts by the city.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

You bet. I would have appreciated being given the opportunity to purchase than land for $26,001.

But, alas, no one but Elwell and the City knew the property was for sale.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

I suspect there is a good deal more to this story than what we were given today.

But it's been entertaining watching you jump to conclusions.

jwmound 12 years, 2 months ago

yeah,, impose more fines so the city can spend money where it is not needed.. I like the way the counsil side steps all the legitimate needs in this town... looks like they are finding ways to try to pay for their overbudgeting shananagins. Do these people even live in this town? Or much less associate with the general population? and i quote the later Bill HIcks

"If you don't believe drugs have done good things for us, then go home and burn all your records, all your tapes, and all your CDs because every one of those artists who have made brilliant music and enhanced your lives? RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrEAL f@#_king high on drugs. The Beatles were so f@$King high they let Ringo sing a few songs."

"The worst kind of non-smokers are the ones that come up to you and cough. That's pretty f@#_king cruel isn't it? Do you go up to cripples and dance too?"

And to note, i did edit that quote.

Have a great one!

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

"I suspect there is a good deal more to this story than what we were given today.

But it's been entertaining watching you jump to conclusions."

No conclusions, just questions. Lots of them.

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