Even though the majority of US states have decriminalized possession of cannabis, with some going as far as to legalize recreational use of marijuana, Kansas has yet to do so. This means that if you are in possession of marijuana in towns like Shawnee, KS, you could be arrested and convicted for possession of a controlled substance. Nevertheless, you may be able to fight this charge with the help of a drug crime lawyer.
If you have been arrested or charged with a drug crime in Kansas, you should consult a drug crime lawyer immediately. The law is more nuanced than people realize. Charges of drug possession in Kansas are being defeated in courts more frequently than in the past, so there is a chance you can avoid the most severe penalties that come with drug possession charges. These penalties can be life-altering, so it’s in your best interest to consult a drug crime lawyer.
Ask a Drug Crime Lawyer: What Is the Maximum Penalty for Marijuana Possession in Kansas?
Federal Marijuana Law Applies to Kansas
In order to understand the possible penalties you can face for marijuana possession in Kansas, we first have to look at how the federal government handles these cases. Currently, marijuana is illegal at the federal level, with no exceptions. If federal authorities charge you with marijuana possession, you can face up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
However, it is highly unlikely that you would face such charges. Federal law enforcement generally goes after large-scale growing operations or drug distribution networks. You would probably only be charged with simple possession if federal agents were investigating you for much more serious charges and found marijuana on your person. In general, the federal government allows states to dictate marijuana enforcement. So, let’s examine Kansas state law to see how it applies to you.
Current Kansas State Law
As marijuana is still illegal in the state of Kansas, the penalties for possession follow the federal standard. If you are caught with any amount of marijuana, you can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of 6 months in prison. However, this is only for a first offense, and does not take your criminal history into account. Kansas allows for more severe penalties for repeat offenders.
If you are charged with possession for a second time, the maximum prison sentence is doubled to 12 months and fines can also be increased. Still, your charge is only a misdemeanor. However, your third charge will be elevated to a felony and you could spend up to three and a half years in prison. Several months can be added for each previous misdemeanor or felony on your record, and these do not have to be related to drug possession.
State Bill 282
Fortunately, recent state bills have softened the state’s stance toward cannabis products in general. State bill 282 legalized the sale of cannabis products that only contain cannabidiol (CBD). This bill was passed in 2018, but it did not grant any reprieve to marijuana users. Possession of plant material or any cannabis product with any percentage of THC was still prohibited.
Since this bill’s passing, police have mistakenly charged individuals who were in possession of CBD-only products with misdemeanor marijuana possession. This was, in part, due to the fact that most CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. This was remedied a year later with State Bill 28.
State Bill 28
SB 28 closed the loophole that police used to continue charging legitimate CBD users with marijuana possession. The law now allows individuals to possess CBD products with up to 5% THC composition. Nevertheless, the bill did not outright legalize such products. Instead, it gave citizens an “affirmative defense”. An affirmative defense is essentially a justified excuse for breaking the law. Therefore, possession of THC-containing products is still illegal, but you can defend yourself with SB 28.
Unfortunately, that still means that you can be arrested and charged for marijuana possession. This is why it is important to reach out to a drug crime lawyer if you’ve been charged. You may be able to walk away from these charges if you can prove that the products you held complied with the affirmative defense provision of SB 28. State law applies to all cities and towns in Kansas, but local laws also play an important role.
Local Drug Law Enforcement in Shawnee, KS
Some municipalities defy state laws to establish non-enforcement zones for laws that the local area disputes. Since most state laws are enforced by local police, it’s important to understand how your city treats drug offenses. Some towns will be more forgiving, while others can be harsher. A good example of this in marijuana enforcement comes from Ann Arbor, MI, where possession of marijuana has historically been given a slap on the wrist with minimal fines and no jail time.
That is not the case in Shawnee, KS. Shawnee has joined other municipalities in Kansas to promote a uniform set of laws that reflect state statutes. The Uniform Public Offense Code, or UPOC, is a set of city laws that many municipalities have agreed to implement, Shawnee among them. The Shawnee Municipal Code adopted UPOC section 9.9.1, which maintains that marijuana possession is illegal and upholds the state’s penalties for possession.
What Should You Do If You Are Charged With Marijuana Possession in Shawnee?
Based on everything we have examined, if you are found to be in possession of marijuana in Shawnee, KS, or any other town in Kansas, it’s highly likely that you will be charged with simple possession. This will carry a maximum fine of $1,000 and potentially 6 months in prison. What should you do if this happens to you? Your first move should be to consult a drug crimes attorney near you.
The sentences provided are maximums, and there is no mandatory minimum for first-time offenders, which means you can possibly negotiate a deal with prosecutors or even take your case to trial. However, in order to have the best chance of success, you’ll want representation that can protect you. Here are some ways that a lawyer can fight to reduce your sentence.
Reducing a Possession Sentence in Kansas
Lawyers have several tools at their disposal to help you avoid harsh sentences for possession. For one, your character will be used to support your case. If you have no previous criminal history and a solid track record of good behavior and steady employment, your lawyer can argue that a prison sentence would incur undue hardship to you and would be more harmful than beneficial.
Other options include enrolling you in a treatment program. Though you may find this unnecessary, taking this step before the court orders it can have a significant impact on your sentence. By showing some remorse and a willingness to cooperate with the law, judges are less likely to see you as a potential repeat offender.
Get the Representation You Need
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in Kansas, it is imperative that you speak with a lawyer. Henderson Legal Defense has defended hundreds of individuals against DUIs, drug crimes, and more. Contact our drug crime attorney for a free attorney consultation.