TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers have put a hold on a medical marijuana bill after hearings wrapped Thursday morning.
Republicans in the Senate Federal and State Affairs committee voted to “table” Senate Bill 135. Both democrats on the committee voted against the move.
“I think that this definitely needs to be given a lot of thought,” said Sen. Alicia Straub, R-Ellinwood, who motioned to table the bill. “And, concerning the testimony, especially that we heard today, I feel like we really need to protect our children, and I don’t believe that we’re ready to work this today.”
The move means that no further discussion or action will be taken for the year. Lawmakers in the committee could potentially decide to bring the bill back up to work on it this year, but for now, it will not progress unless further action is taken.
This comes after lawmakers wrapped up two back-to-back hearings on the bill. The testimony even caused one Republican senator to change their tune on the bill.
“Today, I am no longer a proponent, I am an opponent…The reason is that because of the knowledge and all that we’ve been given,” said Sen. Rick Kloos.”I did not know the effects of what this medicinal marijuana could have on an individual.”
Senators heard from opponents on Thursday. This includes law enforcement officers, health officials and Republican state leaders.
Some believe there could be issues with mental health and addiction that come from use of marijuana. Others pointed to potential issues with law enforcement and the “black market.”
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Tony Mattivi, director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, who has voiced the agency’s opposition to the legislation in the past, voiced his concerns during the hearing. Mattivi pointed to the potential for explosive extraction labs and the lack of resources the agency has to test edibles. He also spoke about the impact it could have on children’s mental health, citing studies from another opponent of medical marijuana, Dr. Eric Voth.
“The thing that he sent me that was the most persuasive was a study that showed the link between increased THC use in our adolescence and mental illness,” Mattivi said. “If there’s one thing that I think we can all agree on, is that we don’t want to facilitate access by our kids to something that is going to adversely impact their mental health.”
To watch the full committee hearing, click here.