TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas House first voted to legalize medical marijuana in the state on Thursday, but Republican leaders signaled that the Senate would not consider the bill in the final days of the legislature.
Before the House pushed the measure 79-42, Senate President Ty Masterson spokesman Mike Pirner told The Associated Press that a draft budget and school funding bill were highlighted as higher priorities for the Senate this week.
Thirty-six states allow medical marijuana, and Kansas is only one of three states without a full medical marijuana or recreational marijuana program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website. Some Kansas lawmakers endorsed the bill, saying the state shouldn’t wait for the federal government to act.
“Kansans are tired of waiting for Kansas to be the last, or falling behind other states on important issues like this. And it’s time we put an end to this and show our people that Kansas can do better, ”said Rep. Adam Thomas, an Olathe Republican.
Thursday’s House of Representatives vote marked the first time Kansas legislature passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in both houses, according to legislature research staff. Before a House panel approved the bill in March, previous proposals weren’t even out of the committee.
The bill would allow patients and caregivers to register to receive medical marijuana IDs for a list of conditions that include cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The measure would also have set up a licensing process for producers and pharmacy owners. Medical marijuana can be sold as oils, tinctures, patches, or potent foods, but not in smoke or steam products.
During Thursday’s debate, support came mainly from Democrats and some Republican lawmakers, who said many of their constituents support the legalization of medical marijuana. However, some members of the GOP House expressed concern that the passage of the law would be the first step towards legalizing the resort area, and some others firmly opposed the law, calling marijuana a dangerous “gateway drug”.
Rep. Pat Proctor, a Republican from Leavenworth, said he was concerned that passing the bill would set up recreational marijuana infrastructure.
“With these pharmacies all you have to do is change your name to” Pot Store “from” Pharmacy “and you are ready to go,” Proctor said.
Before the measure found its way into the home, it received setbacks, mostly from law enforcement officials who said there wasn’t enough evidence that marijuana can treat conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s.
During the debate, some Republican lawmakers cited the federal government’s listing marijuana, along with heroin and LSD, as a List I drug with high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
Republican Russ Jennings of Lakin, southwest Kansas said Kansas should have waited for Congress to crack down on medical marijuana legalization before debating the bill. He called the passage of the bill “a terrible message for a nation governed under the rule of law”.
However, medical marijuana advocates note that because of pot’s legal status in the United States, it is difficult to obtain evidence. Parents of children with disabilities have told lawmakers that marijuana would help relieve symptoms such as seizures. Veterans pushing the bill say marijuana reduced trauma-induced dreams by helping them sleep soundly.
The bill requires doctors to have a six-month relationship with a patient before recommending marijuana, with the exception of military veterans.
Local government officials could ban pharmacies on their territory.
Andy Tsubasa Field is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a not-for-profit national service program that lets journalists report undercover issues to local newsrooms.
Follow Andy Tsubasa Field on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AndyTsubasaF
This story was correct to show that Pirner’s statement preceded the House vote.