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Kansas Lawmakers Plan To Introduce Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

Kansas state lawmakers met last week to discuss legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. They plan to present a bill next year when they reconvene. After last year’s failed attempt, legalizing cannabis for medical purposes was attempted again. A bill passed the Kansas House of Representatives. However, it did not receive the approval of state Senate.

At a meeting last week of the 2022 Special Committee on Medical Marijuana (SSC), Republican Senator Rob Olson stated that he intends to present a bill legalizing medical marijuana in January.

“I think what I’m going to do is — and any member is more than welcome — is to take this information and create the bill,” Olson said at the committee meeting on December 9. “And I’m going to work on a bill with a couple members and then if anybody wants to sign on in the Senate, they’ll be more than able to sign onto that bill, and introduce it at the beginning of session.”

Olson encouraged fellow lawmakers in Kansas to bring similar legislation to be debated when they return home to the capital. The Kansas state legislature has been adjourned. It will reassemble on January 9, 2023.

“I think that’s probably the best way forward,” Olson said.

Residents voice their opinions on medical pot

Members of the community attended the committee meeting, including a group of people opposed to medical marijuana legalization who expressed their views by wearing stickers reading “Kansas says ‘No.’” Individuals were also given the opportunity to speak either for or against legalizing medical marijuana, including Wichita State University senior Laura Cunningham. As part of her school assignment, the student attended the meeting to tell the special legislative panel she supported legalizing medicinal cannabis.

“I feel like a lot of people who do smoke marijuana are very productive members of society, and actually function better because of it. I think a lot of people have found this balance that is appropriate for them as an individual, and that’s what really matters,” Cunningham said. “I don’t think that legalizing marijuana is going to necessarily cause this huge influx of people not having the motivation to participate in society.” 

The meeting included summaries on topics related to legalizing medical marijuana, such as product labels and packaging, medical cannabis possession limits and taxation, and allowing access to medical cannabis to incarcerated persons. Mike Heim, a staff member in the Office of Revisor of Statutes, gave an overview of the information as part of a presentation to the legislative committee.

“You’ve had eight state agencies visit with you, you’ve had nine or 10 research memos by the legislative research department, you’ve had over 60 conferees that have testified in two days before this committee and you have reviewed a couple of bills that were alive last session and so on,” Heim said. “In other words, you’ve been inundated with information.”

Kansas The Medical Marijuana Bills Fail Last Year

Kansas House of Representatives last year passed Senate Bill 158 to legalize medical cannabis. The measure was defeated by a Senate committee just weeks later. Another bill to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis, Senate Bill 560, also failed to gain a Senate committee’s approval to advance to a floor vote. Democratic Senator Cindy Holscher expressed hope that the Senate will approve a legalization of medical cannabis, but she reminded colleagues about the Senate leadership’s failure to support it.

“The whole issue is last year, we had a very strong bill that passed the House, and Senate President Ty Masterson wouldn’t allow it to move forward,” Holscher said. “So I know there are different parties who have been reaching out to him to remind him of how important an issue this is to a lot of different people. So time will tell.”