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Kansas Governor Hopes To Legalize Medical Marijuana This Year

Kansas Governor Hopes To Legalize Medical Marijuana This Year

The practice of social-distancing because of the Covid-19 pandemic has effectively hit the pause-button on some voter-backed legalization measures in states like Missouri and Montana this year, but according to Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, lawmakers in her state still aim to move forward with the legalization of medical marijuana.

With the coronavirus limiting the amount of time lawmakers have left to make decisions this year, they are forced to prioritize topics. Gov. Kelly says legalizing medical cannabis and expanding the state’s Medicaid program are at the top of the priority list for lawmakers to discuss when they come back. If a measure to legalize medical cannabis reaches Kelly’s desk, she plans to sign it.

“There’s been some discussion about legalizing medical marijuana, and I think that discussion continues,” Kelly told local news outlet KSNT. “I think if it actually was able to come to a vote, I think that it probably would pass the legislature.” 

The entire state Legislature originally planned to reconvene on April 27, but after the state’s stay-at-home orders were extended through May 3, plans changed. Now, only the Legislative Coordinating Committee will reconvene on May 6, and then committee members will decide when the rest of the legislature will meet again.

What would a medical marijuana market look like in Kansas?

Smoking dried cannabis flowers would not likely be a permitted method of delivery for patients in Kansas because according to Sen. Bud Estes (R-Dodge City), Ohio has the right idea when it comes to medical marijuana regulations. 

“The Ohio bill…comes the closest to doing what we feel like we should be doing here in Kansas,” Estes told KCUR.

Gov. Kelly’s picture of what retail medical marijuana looks like seems to be aligned with Estes’. “I have always said that I want it well regulated so that it’s controlled and it doesn’t get…so that it’s not the first step to the legalization of marijuana,” said Kelly. “I want it to be seen as a pharmaceutical.”

The policy structure in Ohio does not allow patients to smoke or combust dried flowers, but vaporizing them is acceptable as long as the heating element does not make direct contact with the product.

Edible forms of medical cannabis, such as gummies and brownies, would most likely be available in Kansas as well as topical forms like lotions and balms. In Ohio, transdermal patches are also an option for patients, but lawmakers have not reported whether or not patches will be on the shelves if it is legalized in Kansas.

What about recreational legalization?

While Gov. Kelly has said that legalizing recreational marijuana for adults is not a top priority or even a goal for the future, she is not completely opposed to it. 

When asked if she would approve legislation to legalize the recreational sale and use in The Sunflower State, Kelly said she would probably sign it if that is what voters wanted and lawmakers sent it to her desk.

The majority of voters in Kansas are actually in favor of recreational legalization according to the Kansas Speaks Fall 2019 Statewide Public Opinion Survey.

Kansas alternate revenue sources for tax proposals

The survey, conducted from August 26 to October 14, 2019, revealed that 61.3 percent of participants are in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and over, in order to generate tax-revenue for the state from product sales. According to the survey, 25.8 percent of respondents oppose recreational legalization.

Medical Cannabis Bill Met With Opposition in Kansas

Medical Cannabis Bill Met With Opposition in Kansas

A group of Kansas senators heard testimonies from citizens on both sides regarding a bill that would reduce penalties for cannabis possession in the state.

The bill, debated before the Kansas Senate’s Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, met with opposition from several individuals who claimed that the bill did not go far enough in addressing particular ailments.

One of the dissenters, Navy veteran Raymond Schwab, offered tearful testimony in which he stated that the bill was “not enough” to allow him to curb the effects of his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through the use of cannabis. Schwab attempted last year to move to Colorado in order to gain access to medical cannabis to treat his PTSD, a move that led to the state of Kansas confiscating his children.

Other opponents of the measure offered testimony, saying that a broader bill would not only address other medical conditions –including depression and chronic pain— but also aid in weaning medical patients off of prescription drugs.

Dissenters to the bill were met with opposition from law enforcement representatives, who oppose the measure as is and bemoaned the prospect of a broadening of medical cannabis laws.

“These bills tend to be a precursor to the broader legalization of marijuana,”

said Ed Klumpp, a Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police lobbyist.

The committee chairman, state Sen. Greg Smith (R-Overland Park), said that the bill would continue to be debated this week.

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