Conflicting Marijuana Laws

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Law enforcement officers in Southeast Kansas say medical marijuana laws in Oklahoma and Missouri have them wondering what that means for them.

Last year, both states saw voters enact medical marijuana laws. The big question is what happens if an officer pulls over someone from Oklahoma or Missouri who legally obtained a prescription, and has brought it to a state with a zero tolerance policy. Right now, officers say they have more questions than answers when it comes to how medical marijuana from Oklahoma and Missouri will impact Southeast Kansas. And they say at least some of those answers will come from a judge.

“Most officers don’t want to set case law, or be a part of that, because it usually revolves around something the officer did wrong,” says Chief Bill Adams, Baxter Springs Police Department.

But Baxter Springs Police Chief Bill Adams says case law is likely what it will take to determine how Kansas’ zero tolerance policy will be impacted by marijuana legally obtained in Missouri or Oklahoma.

“In this case, they’re going to accuse the officer of taking something away from somebody, legally taking something away from somebody, that is able to be owned in their own home state legally,” says Chief Adams.

Sheriff David Groves says for now, he’s keeping an eye on how Missouri and Oklahoma develop their medical marijuana industries. He says many areas may also see an increase in the number of arrests for possession of marijuana, regardless of where it was obtained.

“Because although somebody, an Oklahoma resident or a Missouri resident, may get marijuana prescribed to them in their home state, that does not make it legal to bring it across state lines into Kansas, which has a zero tolerance law in regards to marijuana at this time,” says Sheriff Groves.

Groves says another concern he has is with someone who has been prescribed medical marijuana driving on Southeast Kansas roads.

“People who have this prescribed to them need to be aware that it does alter their ability to drive safely, and driving under the influence does not just mean alcohol, and you could get a DUI for driving while impaired, whether it’s under prescription of marijuana or any other prescription drugs,” says Groves.

With so many questions, Adams says what he and his officers need are answers from the state about how to handle the new laws in their neighboring states.

“We’re just waiting for it, one way or the other, for somebody to give that guidance,” says Adams.

Adams says the need for clarification on how to enforce the law is only compounded by Colorado’s laws regarding recreational use of marijuana. Senator Richard Hilderbrand says he knows at least one bill has been filed dealing with marijuana in Kansas.

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