State lawmakers in Kansas are considering a bill that would legalize medical marijuana under strictly limited conditions. Kansas is one of only 14 states without a comprehensive medical marijuana program, currently allowing patients with a recommendation from a physician to only use CBD oil with a maximum of 5% THC.
In the Kansas House of Representatives, lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a medical marijuana program with strict limits on patient eligibility. Under the measure, only patients with one of about two dozen medical conditions including seizures and chronic pain would be permitted to use cannabis medicinally.
To qualify for the program, patients would need a recommendation from a physician specially certified by the state to make such recommendations. Patients would also be required to be under the care of one of the specially certified physicians for at least one year before receiving a medical marijuana recommendation.
The bill would also place strict limitations on the types of cannabis products that would be permitted under the program. Cannabis oils and edibles would be allowed, but smokable cannabis would not be legalized under the measure.
Proponents of the bill hope that its strict regulations will make the bill acceptable to law enforcement groups and conservative Republicans, who have resisted previous attempts to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas. Republican Senate President Ty Masterson told local media that he did not want the state to have a medical marijuana program that would allow almost anyone to qualify as a patient.
“You don’t really believe we have that many 18-year-olds with glaucoma that need to smoke weed for a medical benefit,” Masterson said. “That’s recreational.”
Patients Urge Lawmakers To Act
Last month, medicinal cannabis advocates urged Kansas lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana. Kylie Klug, whose son has a condition that causes seizures, told legislators that he has made progress with low-THC CBD oil. She would like to see more options for more patients, saying that her son has “been able to get off of 100 percent of seizure pills. It’s just like a light went off and he’s bright-eyed and he laughs when his brother get in trouble and you know he’s just…he’s in there again.”
“Everyone knows someone who could benefit from this bill,” Klug added.
Martin Barlow told lawmakers that medical marijuana has helped him deal with PTSD, which sometimes causes debilitating symptoms.
“When I’m just going about my daily life,” he said, “(I) will have flashbacks and panic attacks. PTSD is something that I can’t deal with on my own, I have looked for outside help for 16 years. Cannabis is the thing that works.”
Also last month, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly of Kansas proposed a plan to legalize medical marijuana. Under her proposal, taxes raised by medicinal cannabis sales would be used to fund an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, a move that would cover nearly 200,000 Kansans who currently do not have health insurance.
“After nearly a year of challenges brought on by COVID-19, we need to use every tool at our disposal to protect the health of our workforce and our economy,” Kelly said in a statement from the governor’s office. “Getting 165,000 Kansans health care, injecting billions of dollars and thousands of jobs into our local economies, and protecting our rural hospitals will be critical to our recovery from the pandemic. By combining broadly popular, commonsense medical marijuana policy with our efforts to expand Medicaid, the revenue from the bill will pay for expansion.”
The governor’s plan, however, has not gained the support of Republican lawmakers.