Chief Rick Smith of the Kansas City Police Department wrote in a blog on Wednesday that he believes that cannabis is responsible for his city’s higher than average murder rate. Kansas City, Missouri placed #26 on the list of U.S. cities with 100,000 or more residents with the highest murder rate, based on FBI data from 2015 to 2016, the most recent available.
To back his claim, Smith writes in his blog that 10 murders in the city this year have been directly motivated by marijuana, and include a fews details from a recent homicide.
“Most of these marijuana-related shootings start as robberies of marijuana or the money connected to it,” Smith wrote.
Smith attempts to head off arguments that legalizing cannabis would remove the criminal elements inherent in the illicit market by citing a report that shows that violent and property crimes increased in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington following the legalization of marijuana in those states.
Of course, correlation does not imply causation and Smith seems to acknowledge this fact.
“There is nothing to prove the rise in violent crime was caused by legalized recreational marijuana in the states that have experienced it,” he wrote.
However, this knowledge did not prevent him from asserting this unfounded conclusion only two sentences previously.
“Legalization is no panacea, and has in fact increased crime and drugged driving in the states where it has happened,” wrote Smith.
Smith also fails to mention that not one community from Oregon, Washington, or Colorado appears on the aforementioned list of the 30 most murderous cities in the U.S.
Smith ends his blog by encouraging readers to send comments to him via email at [email protected].
Proposed Ordinance Would Eliminate Penalties for Pot Possession
Smith wrote his blog post following testimony from Capt. Scott Simons of the Kansas City Police Department who testified before a meeting of the city council’s Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. The police captain was appearing to oppose a proposed ordinance that would eliminate penalties for possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana.
“Marijuana is obviously a concern. In regards to the violent crime, we have 10 homicides,” Capt. Scott Simons said.
Approximately 15 people, including Justin Palmer, appeared at the committee to support the proposed ordinance, according to a report in local media.
“The people are speaking. They’d like to be heard, and this is very important for them to say the worst thing about marijuana is being caught with it,” said Palmer.
In 2017, Kansas City reduced the penalty for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana to a fine of $25. But Timothy Gilio, the founder of the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement, said a conviction also carries significant collateral damage.
“You end up with a criminal record that prevents you from having a scholarship, prevents you from entering the military. There are all kinds of repercussions from this $25 fine,” said Gilio.
Christina Frommer, the co-founder of Canna Convict Project, noted that the ordinance would also have positive results for the community.
“This is going to benefit the public greatly. It is going to prevent a lot of police interaction,” Frommer said. “It’s going to cut down on probation and parole.”
The committee ended the meeting without putting the proposed ordinance up for a vote. The city council is expected to revisit the issue at a committee meeting scheduled for October 23.