TOPEKA, Kan. — The debate over medical marijuana continues in Kansas.
Lawmakers recently introduced a couple of new bills in the legislature with the goal of getting some type of legislation approved.
On the other side of the state line, Missouri marijuana sales are through the roof. Since Missouri medicinal sales started in October 2020, vendors have made $642 million. With recreational sales also in play as of Friday, that number is expected to grow.
In Kansas, growing support for medicinal pot is happening slower than some would like.
“The dynamics are a little bit different. If you look back three to four years ago, the efforts were very grassroots,” said State Senator Cindy Holscher, a Democrat from Overland Park.
She serves on the Senate’s Federal and State Affairs Committee, which just received a bill last week that would regulate the cultivation, processing, distribution, sale, and use of medical cannabis. The committee also got a second bill Tuesday, which says veterans would be a part of the patient system first.
Holscher hopes the bills make it to Governor Laura Kelly’s desk, after the House approved a similar bill last year but got left behind in the Senate.
“I’ve been hearing from other lawmakers that they figure something’s going to happen at the very end of the session,” she said.
“I think it is the most bipartisan issue in our country right now, and that’s because it’s hard to deny that this helps people not suffer,” added Daniel Shafton with the Kansas Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. The chamber advocates for cannabis laws and regulations in the Sunflower State.
Shafton sat in on several interim committees late last year as lawmakers heard testimony from those either for or against legalization.
Both Shafton and Sen. Holscher agree that more lawmakers are changing their views on the industry.
“They’re not really considering what dollars this would bring in. They’re considering is there a safe/legitimate way to do this in our state and make sure we don’t have some of the issues that other states do, which I think is very admirable.”
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Right now, no timeline is available for when the committee will review the bills.
If a medicinal cannabis bill happens to get approval from both chambers, Kelly has previously said she would sign it.