Listen to the public on marijuana
Now that Wichitans have voted to lower the criminal penalties for marijuana possession, it is time to let state politicians know they need to respect the vote of the people.
Most people realize marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. A recent poll indicated that 63 percent of Kansans approve of the decriminalization of marijuana while 68 percent approve of medical marijuana (April 24 Eagle).
The real problem is that locking up users of marijuana has filled our jails, and that has put a heavy tax burden on our society. It should be clear to everyone by now that we are locking people up for petty reasons.
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The group JENI (Jobs and Education-Not Incarceration) and the Peace and Social Justice Center worked for months to gather the needed signatures to put this issue on the ballot in Wichita. They are concerned about mass incarceration and are looking for ways to reduce it. Keeping marijuana users out of prisons is a good first step.
Right now there is a bill in the Legislature, House Bill 2049, that would reduce the severity level of the crime of marijuana possession. That would do much of what the new ordinance in Wichita does. Contact your state officials today and let them know that this is about democracy. The people of Wichita have spoken, and it is time our elected officials listened.
Living wage needed
Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, wrote that new welfare reforms he championed will “help make welfare temporary in nature and help Kansans move from government assistance to the dignity of work” (“Kansans support welfare reform,” April 26 Opinion). That can’t happen without the “well-paying” jobs he also mentioned.
Many of the people on welfare have jobs, often more than one. And the “degree completion” O’Donnell mentioned likely could not be done without going into debt.
We wouldn’t need welfare if all jobs paid a living wage. Many don’t. They could if we raised the minimum wage in Kansas. You’d be surprised how many welfare recipients would no longer qualify for the program.
Tree of hope
If you could plant a tree that would grow money, why would you not do it? Even if the tree was going to need 10 percent of the money back to keep it alive and growing, would you still do it? What if the benefits from the tree and the money it provided meant greater access to health care and more insured Kansans, which would result in people seeking medical attention when they need it instead of waiting until the problem gets so bad that it becomes a lot more costly to treat it? Would the tree be worth planting?
The federal government wants to give Kansas money to expand Medicaid. Why wouldn’t we take it? Support the KanCare expansion. It is the tree of hope for Kansans.
MICHELLE Y. SCHEER
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