Kansas Senators Dismiss Medicinal Legalizing Marijuana Bill After Hearing Law Enforcement Opponents!
A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas was put on hold after a hearing where opponents, which include state law enforcement officials, spoke out against it. Thursday, members of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee voted to put the bill, which the committee is behind, on hold. After the vote, Chairman Mike Thompson (R) said that lawmakers have “bigger fish to fry”.
which means that he’s not interested in bringing the proposal back up prior to the conclusion of the 2023 session. Some of the people who testified against the medical cannabis measure were from the Kansas Sheriffs Association, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. Opponents were worried about things like people driving while high, prisoners being able to get medical marijuana, and violent crime that was thought to be linked to cannabis.
The Oklahoma narcotics agent also said that the fact that his state voted against an initiative to legalize cannabis for adults last week shows that people are worried about the current medical cannabis program. Stephen Howe, the district attorney for Johnson County, said that marijuana is the main cause of most murders and shootings in Kansas.
He said that from a public health and safety point of view, the law “really worried me a lot.”
During Thursday’s hearing, Sen. Rick Kloos (R), who is vice chair of the committee, said that he used to support medical marijuana reform but that his views have changed. He told his family and the people who voted for him that he had been “wrong” about just the issue in the past.
“We have to look at the facts even though we hear these heartfelt stories,” he said. This year, more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics, and drug policy bills have been introduced in state legislatures and in Congress. Marijuana Moment is keeping track of these bills. People who give at least $25 per month on Patreon can use our interactive maps, charts, and hearing schedule so they don’t miss any news.
Thompson, who is in charge of the review panel, told reporters after the vote to put the bill on hold that there are a lot of “unanswered questions” about the medical cannabis bill. He told The Topeka Capital-Journal, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry at this point.” “This bill was never meant to be taken seriously.”
Before the vote to put the bill on hold, Sen. Chase Blasi (R) brought up an addendum that would have lowered the amount of THC that could be in medical cannabis edibles. However, Sen. Alicia Straub (R) stepped in to stop the vote and put an end to the bill as a whole. The committee held its second hearing this week on Thursday.
On Wednesday, people who were for and against the bill, as well as representatives from state agencies, talked about it. Earlier this month, the panel also held two hearings where many people who were against marijuana reform spoke. Thompson said he thought it was important to have meetings for the other side because supporters had a chance to talk about an earlier version of the bill during a series of special committee hearings last year.
In 2021, the House of Representatives passed a medical cannabis bill, but the Senate did not move on it. Thursday, Kansas House Democrats tweeted, “Just a friendly reminder that the House already passed medical marijuana!” The minority caucus said, “We have just been waiting for the Senate to get its act together.”
Senate President Ty Masterson (R) had said before that he expected bills and hearings on the problem this year. A spokesperson for the senator said that the senator understands that views on medical marijuana is “maturing,” but that the issue is “not a priority.” Here are the main parts of Kansas Senate Bill 135, which legalizes medical marijuana:
- Patients would be able to buy at least three ounces of cannabis from licensed dispensaries and keep it for up to 30 days.
- It would be illegal to smoke or vape marijuana products.
- Patients with one of 21 conditions, like cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, or chronic pain, could get a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis.
- Regulators would be allowed to add more circumstances to the list, as well as the bill also spells out how people can ask for new ones.
- People who aren’t registered would only have to pay a $400 fine if they have a prescription from a doctor for medical marijuana and are caught with up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana.
- There is also a section on reciprocity that gives people who are registered as patients using medical marijuana in other states legal protections.
- The Environment and Health Department would be in charge of regulating the parts of the program that involve the patients, such as giving out medical cannabis ID cards.
- A Division of Alcohol and Cannabis Control would be in charge of approving licenses for places that grow, process, distribute, and sell medical marijuana.
- The department would set up a Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee to help with the execution and regulation of the marijuana program.
- Fines and fees related to registration would go into a Medical Cannabis Registration Fund. These funds would pay for the costs of putting the program in place.
- Regulators would have until January 1, 2025, to make rules for registering patients, giving out medicinal marijuana cards, licensing businesses, defining what a 30-day supply of marijuana would be, and more.
- There would be a 10% tax on medical marijuana.
- After the program’s administrative costs are paid, tax money would go to a local medical cannabis enforcement fund (20%) and a statewide medical cannabis enforcement fund (10%). Together, these funds could bring in up to $2.5 million per year. The rest of the money would go into the general fund.
- Flowers couldn’t have more than 35% THC, tinctures, oils, and concentrates could have up to 60% THC, edibles couldn’t have more than 3.5 grams, and patches couldn’t have more than 10 milligrams.
- There would be a way for people to ask the government to add other approved ways to use the program.
- Fines and fees for licensing would go to a “Medical Cannabis Business Regulation Fund,” which helps “pay or reimburse costs related to regulating and enforcing the cultivation, testing, distribution, possession, processing, and sale of medical cannabis.”
- The law also gives the state the power to make agreements with Indian tribes that let medical cannabis businesses operate on their land.
In her annual State of the State address in January, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said that legalizing medical marijuana is a “commonsense way to improve health care here in Kansas.” She gave the example of a man with terminal cancer whose hospital room was raided by police and who was given a court summons for having a cannabis vape and extract that he was using to treat severe pain.
The court summons were later revoked. Since then, that person has died. Kansas Democrats, who have been trying to get medical marijuana legalized in recent sessions but haven’t been able to do so, called for change again after hearing about this story. In the meantime, members of the Special Committee on Medical Marijuana held their last meeting in December as they worked to prepare legislation for the 2023 session.
As part of their work, the panel went on a tour of a Missouri cannabis farm at the end of last year. During the tour, they talked about a wide range of issues that they have been talking about with officials and experts over the past few months. The fact that Sen. Robert Olsen (R), who spent a lot of time studying medical cannabis as leader of the special panel, was replaced as chair of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which introduced this latest bill and has jurisdiction over it, making it harder to pass reform this session.
Also, Rep. John Barker (R), who started working on the issue as chair of the House Federal and State Relationships Committee, lost his primary election last year and is no longer in the legislature. Last year, then-House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (D) and Assistant Minority Leader Jason Probst (D) said they wanted to let voters decide whether or not to legalize medical and adult-use marijuana in the state.
The governor, on the other hand, had pushed for a different plan that would have legalized medical marijuana and used the money from it to pay for the expansion of Medicaid. Rep. Brandon Woodard (D) filed the bill on the governor’s behalf. Kelly has said she wants the electorate to put pressure on their representatives to get the reform passed.
After President Joe Biden announced that people who have been convicted of federal marijuana possession crimes would be forgiven and asked governors to do the same, Kelly said that her administration is “focused on legalizing medical marijuana so that Kansans with serious illnesses no longer have to suffer.”
She also said that they will “continue to think about all requests for clemency and pardon based on a full and thorough review of each case.” The governor also said in 2020 that she wouldn’t personally push for legalizing marijuana for adults, but she wouldn’t rule out doing so if a bill to do so came to her desk.