Kansas legislative committee OKs steps toward medical marijuana

TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas legislative special committee on Wednesday approved two early, tentative steps toward considering a medical marijuana bill in a state where earlier attempts to consider the issue went nowhere in the face of strong opposition.

The Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs recommended that Kansas lawmakers consider allowing residents from other states where medical marijuana is legal to use the product in Kansas if they have permission from their home states. However, Kansas residents would not be allowed to use medical marijuana obtained in other states.

The committee also suggested Kansas study Ohio’s approach to medical marijuana use, where patients are limited to 90-day supplies and smoking medical marijuana is prohibited but edibles, patches and oils are allowed. The committee recommended banning vaping of marijuana, which is allowed in Ohio.

The nonbinding recommendations come as acceptance and use of medical marijuana is growing, with 33 states approving some form of use, The Kansas City Star reported.

“This thing is going to go-go-go eventually, and we all need to kind of be at the table and make it a good piece of legislation to help people,” said Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Wichita Democrat.

Earlier attempts to consider medical marijuana in Kansas stalled after opposition from law enforcement and some medical organizations, and with Republican governors threatening a veto. But current Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, supports medical marijuana use.

And three of the four states bordering Kansas — Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri — allow some form of medical use. Missouri voters approved medical marijuana in November 2018 and it should be available early next year.

R.E. “Tuck” Duncan, a lobbyist for the Kansas Cannabis Industry Association, said there is momentum to approve medical use in 2020 but implementation could take a couple years.

“We’re not necessarily reinventing the wheel, which means we can move faster,” Duncan said.

However, representatives of The Kansas Medical Society, a group for physicians, are against the proposal because medical marijuana bypasses Food and Drug Administration approval.

“Until it’s proven medically effective, we don’t support legislating what can be prescribed in that arena,” said Rachelle Colombo, the society’s director of government affairs.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, speaking on behalf of the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association, said he opposes any form of medical marijuana because he wants the product to be tested by the FDA like any other medication.

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