TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – It’s an issue some lawmakers can’t seem to agree on, but as more evidence on the benefits of marijuana is made available, marijuana supporters in Kansas may finally see some change.
“It’s taken a long time to build up the familiarity, education and inform the public about it,” said Wichita Representative Gail Finney, who introduced a bill on legalizing medical marijuana in 2009.
While the bill died in committee, Finney is one of few lawmakers who have made the push for legalizing some form of marijuana in Kansas, despite an increased level of support for legalizing the drug across the state.
Ken Hausler, an army veteran and an owner of CBD Nation, a store that sells a variety of CBD products in Kansas and nationwide, believes legalizing marijuana could have many economic and medical benefits for the state.
“I think there’s a stigma with it, and it’s very unfortunate because it does do a lot of good things for people,” Hausler said.
CBD Nation offers CBD gummies, pills, and topical treatments for depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
Hausler’s wife, D’andre Hausler, co-owner of the store, works as a nurse and has spent that last couple of years studying cannabis-related products and how they affect the human body.
“Studies have shown that marijuana increases the potency of narcotics and other pain relievers, so they can start decreasing those,” Hausler said. “And they can stay on the cannabis with no withdrawals when they’re ready to come off, and it can help them in the long run, rather than them needing more narcotics.”
CBD is used by people across the state as a form of alternative medicine. Unlike marijuana, CBD is legal in Kansas because it doesn’t contain THC, the hallucinogenic components of marijuana. While some say marijuana can have similar medical properties, no bill calling for its legalization has made it past the committee floor.
Some lawmakers have pushed for legalized pot to help solve state budget problems. However, Representative Finney said other lawmakers didn’t take her efforts seriously.
“They would joke with me and like, ‘oh Representative Finney just wants to eat some chips. Smoke weed and eat some chips,'” Finney said.
Finney said one of her main opponents was law enforcement. Despite efforts to legalize marijuana in more than three dozen states, it’s received pushback from Kansas law enforcement officials, who have linked it to an increased number of people being “chemically impaired.”
Now that there’s more widespread acceptance of marijuana across the state, with a poll conducted by Fort Hays State University showing more than 60% of Kansans in support of legalizing the drug, Finney says she’ll be making a solid push for it this year.
“Everybody knows that it’s coming, so we’ll be having the debate again, and hopefully, we’ll have, what I call, a serious debate about it.”
Finney hopes that, this time around, efforts made by advocates of marijuana legalization will have a lasting impact.