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Fayette Co. attorney candidates talk decriminalizing marijuana

Marijuana is a hot button issue in Kentucky right now, but some are calling for it to be decriminalized.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 10:05 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Marijuana is a hot button issue in Kentucky right now, but some are calling for it to be decriminalized. It could be a key issue in this year’s race for Fayette County attorney.

Both candidates for Fayette County attorney favor lesser punitive action for people caught possessing marijuana, saying that it’s essentially already decriminalized in the current system.

“In my five years of being a public defender if anyone had a possession charge it was dismissed or there was a fine with it and as soon as they paid the fine they could get that taken off their record,” Angela Evans said.

Evans, candidate for Fayette County attorney, said marijuana is basically already decriminalized.

“You have the two biggest, most populated areas in the state saying this isn’t what we want to go after anymore and I think it sends a statement to the rest of the state and more importantly to Frankfort,” Evans said.

Kungu Njuguna with the ACLU of Kentucky believes this has a huge impact, both on the judicial system and on the people who get caught up in those systems for possession, particularly within communities of color.

“On a national level we know that African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts. In Kentucky it’s a lot worse. It’s nearly 10 times more the rate,” Njuguna said.

Incumbent Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts is concerned with full legalization of the drug.

“If somebody smokes marijuana once every day or something it’s not a problem, I know it’s not a problem. What I think is the problem is if we legalize it then it’s going to be easier for children to get it and that’s a problem,” Roberts said.

But Evans and Njuguna said more steps could be taken, such as dropping the punishments that are still currently commonplace.

Njuguna pointed to Jefferson County as a model for handling marijuana. He said they currently do not arrest anyone carrying one ounce or less, or if it does happen, all charges get dropped.

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