Two bills in the works to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas

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Two different bills are being drafted to make medical marijuana legal in Kansas, both bills with the same general idea. But, while one bill is more conservative, the other offers more options.

Lisa Ash Sublett founded the group Bleeding Kansas after her daughter started getting seizures from a traumatic brain injury. Last year she helped to introduce a Kansas Safe Access Act amendment to legalize medical marijuana but the House rejected it.

Now she and the group are helping to introduce a new bill sponsored by Representative Gail Finney.

“We don’t want families to suffer here. We don’t want kids taken away from their parents. We don’t want parents in jail and we don’t want patients in jail,” Sublett said. “The law needs to change, but it needs to be done correctly. We’ve seen failure from other states.”

Senator Tom Holland is also proposing a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. Sublett said his bill leaves out important pieces, like the ability for patients in rural areas to homegrow the plant.  

Holland said his version is simpler, and has more of a chance with lawmakers. He decided to draft it after hearing from families with sick children and veterans in his district.

“It’s a bill by Kansans for Kansans. We also need to keep in mind that the Kansas legislature is a conservative body, and so when you look at some of the things in my bill, it’s probably a more screwed down conservative approach to actually get this into the public sphere,” said Holland.

Marijuana opponents like Dr. Eric Voth said the difference between the bills doesn’t matter: medical marijuana is a bad idea no matter what.

“My argument is stick with pure medicine. Medicine that’s reliable, medicine that’s researched, medicine that comes in a very specific dose amount that has very specific effects and side effects. Get away from this hysteria,” Voth said.

Holland and Sublett say any progress towards legalizing medical marijuana is good for Kansas. While the goal is to help sick kansans, it could have bigger impacts.

“It can be done safely for patients, safely for Kansas and in a responsible way,” Sublett said. “It can bring new jobs, new revenue and be a benefit to the state.”

Both groups are expected to introduce their bill sometime within the next two weeks.

Several nearby states have already legalized medical marijuana. You can find a state-by-state breakdown here.

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