The state of Kansas is notoriously unmoved by the efforts of marijuana legalization activists and advocates – continuing to jail people who use marijuana medicinally, treating them like common criminals when all they want is to have a better quality of life. However, lawmakers appear to be accepting – albeit slowly – the fact that cannabis does have medicinal value. However, out of the two bills that were introduced to the Senate this session, only one has made it to the Senate floor for a full vote and it is definitely the more restrictive of the two options.
Originally, there were two bills introduced. Senate Bill 155 would have allowed patients to grow up to 12 plants, and have up to six ounces of cannabis. It would also have permitted the creation of “compassion centers” which would distribute the medicine to patients who couldn’t – or preferred not to – grow their own. This would have allowed a larger number of patients access to the medicine, but the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee preferred a more restrictive approach and instead passed Senate Bill 151.
“There’s some evidence that shows that there’s medical value to that,” Masterson said. “This really sets apart those that are trying to get high versus those trying to get a medical benefit.”
There are several big differences between the two bills. But the biggest difference by far is the fact that Senate Bill 151 only allows the use of “non-intoxicating” cannabis, which – while not clearly defined – is assumed to mean cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. This bill only allows patients with a medical professional’s recommendation to use this non-intoxicating cannabis, and does not allow home growing or supply a legal route for patients to obtain the medicine.
While it’s nice to see lawmakers in such a conservative state finally start taking the subject of medical cannabis seriously, it’s still disappointing to see them strip down a perfectly good bill and replace it with one that will help significantly fewer people, without even giving them a way to access the medicine they are being recommended. Laws like this one don’t really change much – all they do is protect parents and patients from arrest when medicating with CBD and its time for lawmakers to realize this. Although, again, progress of any sort is still progress, so let’s hope this bill makes it through the upcoming Senate vote.