Kansas lawmakers launch another attempt at medical marijuana legalization

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Following previous attempts including Gov. Laura Kelly’s push for medical marijuana to go toward Medicaid expansion, Kansas lawmakers are pushing legislation to legalize medical marijuana with strict regulations. // Image courtesy of Gov. Laura Kelly

After previously unsuccessful efforts, Kansas lawmakers have introduced a new bill in hopes that the state will follow through with medical marijuana legalization.

Under the House bill, only certified physicians could prescribe marijuana and prescription could only result from a specific list of symptoms such as chronic pain, cancer or brain injury. It would also require doctors to see patients for at least a year before prescribing marijuana and would limit to use to forms like edible products and oils, excluding smoking.

This bill follows Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposal to use revenue from medical marijuana for Medicaid expansion. Some Kansas Democrats have also pushed legislation in favor of recreational marijuana legalization.

Efforts to make marijuana medicinally accessible has been met with opposition from several state officials, including Sheriff Cole Presley of the Kansas Sheriff’s Association.

“This is just one step closer to legalizing recreational marijuana,” he says.

Kansas is currently surrounded by four states that have either fully or partially introduced marijuana legalization. In total, 36 states have introduced forms of marijuana legalization, leaving Kansas as one of 14 that have not. Without legalization of marijuana, Kansas residents who want or need it have to travel or relocate to other states for access. With them goes the revenue that Kansas could receive from sales under legalization.

While Presley and others have concerns about where medical marijuana could lead Kansas, some argue marijuana is an important tool in treating conditions like seizures. Former Kansas lawmakers Willie Dove argues the need for marijuana use falls far outside recreational use. Many want to use it for specific medical conditions, he says.

“We’re not talking about hippies from the sixties,” Dove says. “We’re talking about individuals, law-abiding citizens, that really want to make something happen for their families.”

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