TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators aren’t ready to declare that marijuana possession never should be a felony, rejecting proposals Monday to lower penalties for third-time offenders and to release others from prison.
The House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee voted 7-4 against a bill that would make possessing marijuana a misdemeanor, no matter how many times someone was convicted. Kansas law currently says a third conviction is a felony that can be punished by up to 14 months in prison, though offenders often receive probation.
The bill also initially said offenders now in prison for marijuana possession would be released, but the committee removed that provision from the measure. Supporters of lessening the penalties for repeated marijuana possession accepted the change to give the bill a better chance of passing.
Yet the measure failed to clear the GOP-controlled committee anyway, and Chairman Russ Jennings, a Lakin Republican, said the debate on the idea is over for the year. It was a blow to advocates of less strict laws on pot.
“I still don’t believe that marijuana should be legalized,” said GOP Rep. Stephen Owens, of Hesston. “I believe this was a step in that direction.”
Jennings supported the bill