Kansas has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country, and they are likely to stay that way for now.
Some legislators hoped to pass a medical marijuana law in the most recent legislative session. There was a House-passed bill that did not make it through the Senate. The Senate also had a bill, introduced by Republican Rob Olson, that was not passed in Kansas legislatures by the end of the session on May 23. A six-member conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers, chaired by Senator Olson, has been writing a medical marijuana law they hope can pass both chambers of the House and Senate.
According to Senate leadership spokesman Mike Pirner, the conference committee’s work is unlikely to result in medical cannabis law in Kansas anytime soon. Perhaps the next legislative session will result in a medical marijuana bill for the state.
One of Rob Olson’s efforts to write a medical marijuana bill that could pass Kansas’ House and Senate included 20 qualifying conditions for prescribing cannabis to patients. S.B. 560’s language includes wording that “any other chronic, debilitating or terminal condition that, in the professional judgment of a physician, would be a detriment to the patient’s mental or physical health if left untreated.” It is a catch-all provision that gives physicians wide latitude in prescribing cannabis to patients the doctor feels will be helped by it. Bill S.B. 560 also required patient-physician medical relationships, equity licensing, and effective dates.
As things stand now, Kansas does not allow possession of any amount of marijuana. Someone arrested for possession can be charged with a misdemeanor that could mean incarceration for up to six months and a $1,000 fine.
When the conference committee met in April, Senator Olson felt a degree of optimism regarding the chances of writing and passing a medical marijuana bill in Kansas. He felt there was enough time to get a bill together that would be likely to pass both chambers of the Kansas legislature, but there was still a lot of work to do to develop a practical compromise. The Democrat governor supports a regulated medical program for cannabis.
Kansas legislators are at the initial stages of developing a medical marijuana law that could pass both houses of the legislature. As the legislature adjourned, the first medical cannabis conference was held to review differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Senator Olson’s conference committee is also working on writing a bill that can pass both chambers. He has worked hard to find language that is the right mix for Kansans. The senator feels there are enough yes votes for both the House and Senate to pass a medical cannabis bill.
Significant differences between the proposed legislation of the House and the Senate would need to be worked out before any bill gets to the floor for a vote – including provisions for licensing agreements and how cannabis products are advertised. The House bill has a detailed plan for advertising, including warnings for pregnant women and people with mental health issues, including emotional disorders. There will be no advertisements within 10 miles of state highways that cross state lines in the House bill. There will be no advertising that displays pricing. The Senate proposal includes rules about the minimum and maximum square footage for growing facilities.
The Kansas House passed a medical marijuana law in 2021. It was framed as a historic event that would likely pave the way for a bill to be passed in both houses by 2022 and become law in the state. However, the Legislature had several other critical issues that needed attention in 2022, including tax cuts, sports betting, and public health bills. The Kansas Legislature could put time and energy into medical marijuana, but the pandemic and other essential issues required attention first. The Kansas Senate introduced its own bill proposal, but there was little enthusiasm in the Senate to work to get it passed. As a result, the Senate proposal did not make it out of the committee.
Medical marijuana has considerable support in Kansas. It has majority support in the state. There are endless discussions about giving people choices and getting the government out of our lives. So why does the Kansas Senate not see that medical marijuana is an essential issue for many of their constituents? Voters of Kansas need to reach out to their representatives and speak clearly and convincingly about medical marijuana.
Who would be helped if Kansas allowed medical marijuana to treat patients? Those with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy could use medical marijuana. Some senators have proposed that patients with debilitating psychiatric disorders could receive medical cannabis treatment.
The Senate version of the medical marijuana bill has several security provisions to prevent theft. Things like exterior lighting, video monitoring, and a security manager for each establishment are part of the Senate plan.
The House and Senate versions of the medical marijuana law have very different fee structures, with the Senate proposing payments that can be twice the amount of the House bill.
Not everyone in Kansas is enthusiastic about medical marijuana. Critics insist that legalizing medical cannabis invites several important risks, including crime in Kansas, enforcement of drug laws, and accessibility of cannabis. In 2020, there were nearly 20,000 drug seizures in the state, including roughly 10,000 marijuana seizures. There is a robust black market for marijuana in Oklahoma, a medical marijuana state just south of Kansas. Law enforcement in Oklahoma feels black market marijuana is of concern to law enforcement. Kansas investigators are seeing an increase in motor vehicle accidents with fatalities, which they attribute to marijuana consumption. They also feel that increased use of marijuana can increase opioid overdoses.
The increase in the consumption of oils and extracts can compromise people’s perceptions. Marijuana extracts of over 10 percent potency can potentially provoke psychosis and psychiatric disorders in users. However, the use of marijuana in a medical setting can allow physicians and patients to review healthy medical marijuana practices.
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