Medical marijuana in Kansas: Some hopeful, others concerned by developments in Topeka

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Medical marijuana is a decade-long issue that’s faced Kansas lawmakers. In spite of a historic House vote approving it, final Senate approval this year is unlikely.

Even so, the House approval leaves some overjoyed and others concerned.

If you have a medical marijuana license in Missouri, you can step inside a number of dispensaries and get what you need. However, just a feet away in some cases, it’s illegal in Kansas. However, in the future, that may be changing.

On Thursday, the Kansas house passed a bill approving medical marijuana 79 to 42.

Jonathan Lewis is a veteran, and lost one of his legs in a car crash. He relied on opiates and became addicted but was able to break the cycle through medical marijuana.

“I found a way to actually escape the jail of opiates, and I could actually live my life,” Lewis said.

He’s made a business of it with Mo Gro Solutions. They offer services to help others manage and market their medical marijuana businesses. Lewis said this is a bipartisan issue and hopes to see marijuana become legalized across the United States.

“We need to stop the line is what we need to do. We need to go ahead and legalize across Kansas, and across the nation, because there’s a lot of veterans that are suffering a lot worse than I am,” Lewis said.

Kansas State Rep. Pat Proctor said he sees the benefits of medical marijuana, but the Republican lawmaker voted against the bill because he doesn’t want to see recreational marijuana move forward. He said he proposed several amendments to the bill that were rejected. One of them would see cannabis distributed in pill form.

“What I won’t vote for is the the marijuana industry’s bill that we were presented with, which makes up, basically builds all the infrastructure to pave the way for recreational marijuana, which I do not support,” Proctor said.

Jessica Kelly moved across the state line from Leawood to Kansas City to benefit from medical marijuana. The single mother used opioids to treat a long-term chronic pain condition. She’s glad to be off traditional pain medication, but would like to be closer to her family

“We’re not trying to get high. We’re not using it recreationally. It really is a medicine,” Kelly said. “I would like to be able to go back, and I don’t feel it doesn’t feel good that I have to be restricted to where I can live due to a medical condition. That’s not my fault.”

Kelly said while Leawood doesn’t seem very far away, it can be difficult when she is experiencing flare-ups and needs help with her child, sometimes at the last minute, from family.

“I hope that they can perfect the language by expanding on it and adding to it. I hope they can allow for patients to consume all forms of medical cannabis. I hope that they can craft the language in a way that it allows doctors and patients to work together and not legislators deciding what conditions qualify,” Kelly said.

The bill, as it stands, does not allow for cannabis to be smoked in the traditional sense, but ingested through an edible, pill or oil.

Proctor said he would like to see grow operations be set in rural settings and away from neighborhoods with children.

“I do have deep compassion for those folks that are suffering from ailments that can be helped by marijuana, and I want to get them access to those things. I just don’t want to do it in a way that creates a ton of unintended consequences and unintended problems for our state,” Proctor said.

The bill is now moving to the state Senate. However, Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson said he believes the chamber won’t be able to take up the issue until 2022.

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