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Lawmakers look ready to legalize medical marijuana, but likely won’t let Kansans vape or smoke it

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(Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service)

(Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas Information Service)

TOPEKA, Kansas — State lawmakers discover themselves on the verge of legalizing marijuana for medical use, however with stricter guidelines than the way in which hashish has been cleared to be used in different states.

The Kansas Home handed a legalization invoice final 12 months. The Senate stood poised to start out work on it within the opening weeks of the present session, however Republican Senate President Ty Masterson abruptly pulled the invoice from the calendar.

Now the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee has begun three days of hearings on the measure, a sign that the conservative Republicans controlling the Legislature have blessed tightly regulated legalization.

Masterson mentioned he wasn’t against legalization. Somewhat, he mentioned, he wished to ensure that invoice was written tightly sufficient to protect in opposition to doctor-shopping and different ways that permit folks to get the drug on flimsy claims of medical want.

“There’s some respectable medical profit to the derivatives of the hashish plant,” Masterson mentioned in a pre-session interview with the Kansas Information Service. “The ultimate hurdle is: What’s a respectable technique to ship it.”

Thirty-seven states have adopted medical marijuana applications. Leisure use is authorized in 18 of them.

The Kansas laws would permit medical doctors to suggest hashish for persistent ache and the therapy of twenty-two particular ailments or circumstances, together with AIDS, most cancers, a number of sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s illness and ulcerative colitis.

Sufferers affected by different persistent or terminal circumstances that a physician believes would reply to hashish is also eligible.

Sam Jones, a Wichita lawyer, says the drug is a safer various to opioids and different prescription drugs.

“The medical advantages are respectable and verifiable,” he mentioned.

They’re backed by research which can be rising in quantity as extra states legalize medical hashish.

Remedy choices are restricted by the invoice. It prohibits smoking and vaping, permitting solely edibles, oils, tinctures and patches.

A number of individuals who testified in help of the invoice urged lawmakers to take away the prohibition on smoking and vaping, together with Jack Mitchell, the proprietor of a medical marijuana dispensary in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri.

He mentioned states that began with related restrictions have deserted them.

The invoice establishes a rigorous course of for medical doctors who need the choice of recommending hashish and their sufferers.

Medical doctors must acquire certificates from the Kansas Board of Therapeutic Arts to suggest medical marijuana to sufferers. They might even be required to submit annual experiences detailing the drug’s effectiveness.

Sufferers and their designated caregivers must undergo a physician to acquire the drug. The doctor would submit an utility on their behalf to the Kansas Division of Well being and Atmosphere.

Sufferers authorized to make use of the drug would get a safe identification card for a payment of $50. Veterans and low-income Kansans would pay solely $25. Then they’d purchase the drug at state-licensed hashish dispensaries.

Disabled Military veteran Johnathan Lewis, from Missouri, informed the Senate committee that medical marijuana lessens the persistent ache he suffers from accidents that required the amputation of certainly one of his legs. And, he mentioned, it helps him to be “an precise functioning member of society.”

Some supporters of the general invoice urged lawmakers to vary provisions they mentioned might result in issues standing up a hashish business in Kansas.

Heather Hobbs Steppe, the president of the Kansas Hashish Chamber of Commerce, mentioned the excessive value of licenses wanted to domesticate, course of and promote medical marijuana might restrict its availability in rural areas.

“With a purpose to have a profitable program,” she mentioned, “it’s going to should … work in all 4 corners of the state.”

That, Steppe mentioned, requires a program that “helps small companies and household farmers.”

Excessive licensing charges, she mentioned, will drive up prices to customers who could be pressured to return to the black market to acquire the drug.

The invoice units a number of milestones for establishing the principles and laws wanted to make this system operational.

If the measure passes and all these deadlines are met, medical marijuana can be obtainable in Kansas by January 2024.

Jim McLean is the senior correspondent for the Kansas Information Service. You’ll be able to attain him on Twitter @jmcleanks or e-mail jim (at) kcur (dot) org. 

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and Excessive Plains Public Radio centered on well being, the social determinants of well being and their connection to public coverage. 



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