Marijuana advocates holding out hope for legislation to pass in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – April 20 is a big day for marijuana advocates, though in Kansas, using the substance isn’t allowed in any form.

Lawmakers made progress on a medical marijuana bill in the Kansas Legislature this year. Legislators voted the bill out of committee late last month, but before it had a debate on the House floor, the bill was sent back to committee.

That’s not dampening marijuana advocates spirits, though.

“It’s really refreshing to see very conservative legislators and very liberal legislators sit down and work on an issue that frankly they know that the majority of Kansans want to see,” said George Hanna, co-director for Kansas NORML.

Though the bill passed out of a Republican-controlled committee with bipartisan support, there are some concerns with it.

“It’s a very complex issue, and it’s a big bill,” Abilene Representative John Barker said. “It has to look medical.”

Barker chairs the committee it passed out of. He said if there is enough time when lawmakers return in May, they will look at how to improve the bill with amendments and could vote on it again to get it to the full House.

But not all lawmakers like it.

“This is about the marijuana industry pushing to be able to make money off of Kansas,” said Burlington Representative Eric Smith, who also serves as a Coffey County Sheriff’s Deputy.

He said certain people should be able to use medical marijuana, but he believes the bill needs to be tightened up so that only people that really need it can get it.

“This bill goes way beyond that and opens it up more or less to recreational marijuana if you can come up with an excuse and call it medical,” Smith said.

It’s a steep hill to climb to have both chambers pass the bill and get it to the governor’s desk this year, but either way, advocates are pleased with the progress.

“I’m excited where we’re at today and I think whether it passes this year or not, I think we’ve made huge strides in Kansas, and I know it’s coming,” Hanna said.

If the current bill is passed and signed into law, it would allow marijuana edibles and oils but not allow smoking.

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