Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announced on Thursday an end to filing criminal cases for simple marijuana possession offenses.
“After a careful survey of policies in other cities, including Lawrence, Wichita, and Kansas City, Missouri,” DA Branson said, “the District Attorney's Office will no longer prosecute cases of simple marijuana possession.”
Branson went on to say, "I do not feel it is fair or just for Douglas County to criminally charge citizens with something they can do with virtually no penalty in the City of Lawrence and other surrounding communities."
This decision is, in part, a recognition of the public's changing attitudes on simple marijuana possession. It is also an effort to free up the courts and law enforcement to focus their efforts on more serious issues.
“It is true that drug and alcohol addiction is a real problem in our community; however, the prosecution of simple marijuana offenses has a disproportional impact upon people of color and the poor,” Branson said. He went on to say, “For those with addiction issues, jail sentences are ineffective. As a community, we have to focus on better treatment methods and reducing financial barriers to those seeking treatment.”
Felony possession or cultivation of marijuana with the intent to distribute and driving while impaired will still be prosecuted at the discretion of the District Attorney's Office.
While simple possession will not be charged in Douglas County, Branson does note possession is still illegal under State and Federal law and in most Kansas communities.
The decision to halt the prosecution of simple marijuana possession cases in Douglas County is effective immediately, Branson said.
This release is not intended to provide legal advice. Legal advice can only be provided in an attorney-client relationship.
This release must not be relied on as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.
*Rule 226 - Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
3.6 Advocate: Trial Publicity
3.8 Advocate: Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor