KANSAS CITY, MO – Kansas lawmakers will discuss a bill to legalize medical marijuana.
House Bill 2184 has stepped down from the Kansas Federal and State Affairs Committee and is now being passed on to the entire House of Representatives for review. It is the first time that such a calculation has come this far.
It needs to go through the Senate next and ultimately get the governor’s signature to go into law.
If passed, patients would register with the state health department and require a medical certificate to obtain a medical marijuana card.
“Five years ago I didn’t know I would have supported it,” said Rep. Samantha Poetter (R-Paola). “Now I am primarily more libertarian in this aspect, so I partially supported it. And also because of the support my constituents have for it.”
According to Poetter, 80 percent of their voters, most of whom live in Miami County, support medical marijuana.
In contrast to the many bills that have wavered in the committee, this bill differs in that it is supported by the GOP.
“If we legalize on the medical side, we’ll get rid of the black market side and lower those costs for those who are already doing this and get taxpayers’ money from it. So that’s a win-win situation,” said Poetter.
Compared to Missouri’s tightly regulated program, the Kansas bill would not limit the number of companies that could be licensed to grow, sell, and manufacture marijuana. It would also charge lower license fees than other states like Ohio and Missouri.
Also, unlike Missouri, the bill would only allow oils, groceries, and tinctures – non-smokable flower and vape pens, which Poetter wants to change.
The Kansas Cannabis Coalition – made up of KS NORML, Bleeding Kansas Advocates, the Kansas Cannabis Business Association, and Kansas Nurses for Medical Cannabis – supports a number of changes that would allow flowers and vaporized products.
The bill would also ban Kansans from growing at home.
“We wanted to open a dialogue and get it somewhere in the middle,” said George Hanna, co-director of KS NORML. “There were a few things we just couldn’t stand up for, and license caps are certainly one of them.”
Hanna said the coalition wanted a workable bill that would lie between Oklahoma’s low barrier to entry and Missouri’s limited approach, which has been challenged in court by many people who have been denied licenses.
“When you regulate something to this extent, you open yourself up to litigation and possible corruption,” said Hanna. “The ‘blue sky’ worth of licenses, and it really tarnishes the water.”
NORML expects medical marijuana to generate revenue of $ 98 million for the state in the first two years. 120,000 people apply for a card.
Lisa Sublett, co-founder of Bleeding Kansas Advocates, who has been pushing for legalization for years, said advancing the law will benefit families whose loved ones have serious illnesses. The group also advocates for those in prison who have minor marijuana charges.
“We know that in the end we will have some way to give patients access and we can stop sending patients to jail,” Sublett said. “The apocalypse is not going to happen, but what is going to happen is that some people will be able to go back to work for the first time in many years, revenue will come to the state, new industries, new jobs, but most of all, people will get their quality of life back . ”
Bleeding Kansas has long argued about the benefits of medical marijuana for children with autism and epilepsy, as well as for veterans with PTSD, and for any other person struggling to find effective treatment.
Poetter said the testimony of such people also helped her back up the bill.
Hanna says lawmakers in Kansas are in an interesting position as they push again for marijuana to be removed from List I, which includes drugs like heroin and LSD.
“If Kansas doesn’t act until it’s relaxed nationwide, then the narrative completes a 180 and Kansas needs to rethink its position on what to do,” said Hanna.
The bill will go to the floor of the house next week.