Wichita City Council tackles penalties for marijuana possession, fentanyl test strips

Wichita City Council tackles penalties for marijuana possession, fentanyl test strips
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:27 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita City Council members met on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of reducing penalties for possession of marijuana and fentanyl test strips.

Mayor Brandon Whipple said the fentanyl crisis is the number one killer of people between the ages of 18 and 45, and the crisis, he said, is personal to him.

“I grew up in a state that has just been beaten up by the opioid crisis. My best friend in high school actually passed away earlier this year and fentanyl just gets laced into this stuff and frankly. It’s a killer,” said the mayor during Tuesday’s council meeting.

Whipple said his personal account wasn’t an endorsement of fentanyl test strips but about how resources within the city are being used.

Fentanyl test strips are currently illegal in Kansas. However, the city can tell police officers not to acknowledge the test strips.

“Do we want our officers out there fighting crime? Or do we want them actually arresting a mother who bought test strips for her, for her son who is fighting addiction right now to try to make sure he has the best chance of recovery?” Whipple asked the council.

Interim Wichita Police Chief Lem Moore said preparations began last week to organize a town hall to discuss fentanyl and make the community aware of what is going on. Those meetings will be scheduled within the next few weeks.

“We could bring different community members and experts, EMS, the coroner’s office, forensics science center to be able to have those discussions with the community and update them and make them aware of what’s happening and what’s going on,” said the interim chief.

Council member Jeff Blubaugh asked Interim Chief Moore during Tuesday’s meeting whether the department had charged anyone with possessing the test strips. Moore did not have the data on hand.

A decision on both this issue and penalties for marijuana possession was pushed back to August 2.

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