Activists to hold cookout promoting legalization of marijuana in Kansas

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WICHITA, Kansas — A cookout scheduled for Saturday afternoon will grill up hamburgers and hot dogs, but the real focus will be on lighting up marijuana legally.

The group called “Fire It Up Kansas” wants state lawmakers to decriminalize cannabis, and they hope the get-together at Sedgwick County Park will spread the word.

“In more than 5,000 years of documented use, nobody has ever died from smoking pot or tending to hemp,” said Mike Golden, one of the organizers. “But half a million people die every year in this country alone from alcohol or tobacco use.”

Supporters of legalized marijuana say it should be taxed and regulated by federal and state governments.

“I’m tired of seeing people destroyed, seeing children grow up without parents, tired of being looked at as idiots,” said Diana Golden. “We’re not out here robbing nobody. We’re not killing nobody. We work every day.”

While other pro-pot groups advocate for the legalization of marijuana only for medicinal uses, Fire It Up Kansas says that doesn’t go far enough.

They believe legalizing cannabis would eliminate the black market on pot and provide tax revenue for government coffers.

“Prohibition of marijuana and hemp, all it does is support organized crime because it’s in the hands of a black market,” said Mike Golden. “Street gangs, drug cartels– that’s where the power is at. You take it away, and you make it a legalized, taxed and regulated industry out of a safe product, they lose their power.”

The “Cannabis Cookout” runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Sedgwick County Park.

Organizers are telling supporters who might be tempted to light up not to bring any substances that are currently illegal in Kansas.

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