Wichita attorney explains state impact from federal marijuana pardons

12 News spoke with local legal experts to gain perspective on what kind of impact this could have on Kansas.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Following Thursday’s announcement that President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, 12 News spoke with local legal experts to gain perspective on what kind of impact this could have on Kansas.

The federal pardons will not apply to possessions of marijuana with intent to distribute or distributions of marijuana or manufacturing. Further, the pardons will not affect convictions under state law.

Wichita criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat said a charge on a federal level verses a state level depends on who makes the arrest.

“That depends upon which law enforcement office has jurisdiction over the offense, which law enforcement agency makes the arrest and which prosecutor decides to prosecute it,’ he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Compared to surrounding states, even possessing a small amount is a crime in Kansas.

“Well far less than a blunt is enough to prosecute somebody in Kansas,” Monnat said. “Any amount that can be possessed is sufficient for a conviction of possession of marijuana.”

Micah Kubic with ACLU Kansas said marijuana laws have disproportionately affected specific groups in the U.S.

“Drug laws in Kansas, around the country have disproportionately hurt communities of color of disproportionately hurt African American and Latino communities, Kubic said.

Now, all those eligible for a pardon will get a new chance at life, but Kubic said that won’t change anytime soon at the state level.