Wichita City Council members have given final approval to a chance in city ordinances to remove marijuana possession from enforcement in Municipal Court.
The vote was 5-2, as it was for the first round approval a week ago. Council members Bryan Frye and Becky Tuttle voted no.
Councilman Frye asked to reconsider the vote and then moved to change it to continue prosecution of possession of small amounts of marijuana, with a fine of one dollar. His motion would have removed fentanyl test strips from prosecution by the city.
Mayor Brandon Whipple made a substitute motion to approve the change as it was presented last week, and that motion was approved with the 5-2 vote.
The move will end the city’s prosecution for possession of fentanyl test strips and possession of marijuana. Those cases will now be prosecuted in district court. There have been no cases in Municipal Court or district court for the test strips, but Sedgwick County officials have raised concerns about the additional cases that district court will have to handle for marijuana possession. County Commissioners are looking at the possibility of billing the city for the cost of handling those cases, but Mayor Whipple has said there is no legal basis for the county to take that action.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said last week he was planning to meet with city prosecutors to determine how to handle cases that involve marijuana and other offenses. He is concerned about double jeopardy issues in prosecuting someone for offenses in city court and for marijuana offenses in district court.