Photo by Laura Seaman

Kansas House Passes Medical Marijuana, but Senate Likely to Avoid It

This week the Kansas House of Representatives approved a bill to establish a medical marijuana program, but the legislation’s prospects don’t look great in the state Senate.

“Today, a Republican initiative to legalize medical marijuana was passed by a Republican supermajority in a non-ballot initiative state,” Erin Montroy, CEO for the Kansas Cannabis Business Association, said Thursday. “This is a watershed moment, the point where everything changes and nothing will ever be the same.”

The legislation would establish a medical marijuana program for qualified patients. It lists about two dozen conditions that make a person eligible for cannabis, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

“This is a watershed moment, the point where everything changes and nothing will ever be the same”

Erin Montroy

But its prospects look dim in the state Senate. The chamber has days left before the end of the legislative veto session, and GOP leaders have signaled marijuana reform isn’t a priority to them.

“I can’t imagine we’d take the subject matter up this year,” Republican Senate President Ty Masterson said earlier in the week.

A spokesperson for his office separately said the chamber is focused on passing budget legislation and a school funding measure in the final days of the session.

If the Senate doesn’t take up the medical marijuana bill by Tuesday, it would still be alive in 2022 when the second half of the legislative session kicks off.

But even if senators do make time to establish a bicameral conference committee to consider the proposal, there are still serious doubts about whether the body would approve the resulting negotiated legislation. And defeat in the Senate this year would mean lawmakers would have to start the process all over again if they wanted to pursue the reform again next year.

The bill moved through the House Federal and State Affairs Committee after a series of hearings and onto the floor in March, but then it was re-referred to the panel for further consideration. Members then adopted several additional amendments before sending it back on the floor.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, for her part, supports medical cannabis. Though she pushed a separate proposal to legalize medical cannabis and use the resulting revenue to support Medicaid expansion.

This piece is a part of a content sharing arrangement between The News Station and Marijuana Moment.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE, etc.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE, etc.

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