WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — There are still a lot of questions to iron out when it comes to Wichita’s new take on marijuana and fentanyl testing strips. Some are wondering if they can legally smoke marijuana in the streets, while some county leaders are saying not so fast.
The City of Wichita said people cannot walk around smoking marijuana. It is still illegal, as are fentanyl strips.
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said the city is simply out of the business of small possession of marijuana and fentanyl strip cases.
But Sedgwick County is concerned with the rise in case this could bring.
“We are out of the business of knocking down your door and arresting someone who has fentanyl test strips that is not going to come from the city,” said Mayor Whipple.
Mayor Whipple addressed concerns of the public, including what the Wichita Police Department will do if this new ordinance is enacted.
“They should be handling this just like any other state law that we don’t enforce at the city courts,” said Mayor Whipple.
But the county is concerned with the impact this may have.
On Wednesday, Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis urged the board to figure out how to bill the City of Wichita for expenses pertaining to this ordinance.
“There is no legal way to send us an invoice for what the County chooses to spend their money on. That is not how this works,” said Mayor Whipple.
But the county can bill the city for booking people into the jail, according to Wichita City Council member Bryan Frye.
“It is common practice. We have done it for years, and this would be an increase in jail stays, so the commissioner as it relates to that is entirely accurate now any other costs associated with it,” said Councilman Frye.
The county was unable to interview with KSN on Thursday but said they charge the city just over $62 a day for a prisoner booked under the city’s authority.
Mayor Whipple said the county has not contacted him in trying to have a conversation about their concerns.
The Wichita Police Department still has not commented on what direction they will give patrol officers.
“Now, they may have to hire a lawyer a warrant. It has been much more of a burden on a person when previously it was a simple notice to appear,” said Frye.
The City of Wichita plans to release a Q&A document on Friday morning to clear up more confusion surrounding the ordinance.
The council will hold the second reading on Tuesday, and if enacted, it will go into city code most likely by Sept. 23.