Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill (SB 158) approved by the Kansas House of Representatives
Members of the Kansas House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday that would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. The measure, Senate Bill 158 (SB 158), was passed in the House with 79 to 42 votes.
The Kansas Senate approved SB 158 on March 25, and then sent the measure to the House, where legislature amended it. The bill will now go back to the upper chamber so the senators can take into account the changes made in the house.
“The state of Kansas is finally catching up with the 21st century,” said Rep. Louis Ruiz, the senior Democrat on the House’s federal and state affairs committee. “Kansans need to have access to all possible health options that are available to them, especially if they have chronic illnesses. This bill will do just that. Many of our neighboring countries have passed similar laws. It is time for us to do the same. “
According to SB 158, registered patients and caregivers can buy medical cannabis drugs at the same time for up to 90 days. Patients are not allowed to smoke or vape medical marijuana. The specific amount of cannabis would be set by state officials who would be tasked with drafting the rules and regulations for the medical marijuana program by July 1, 2023.
MP Adam Thomas said he saw the issue as an opportunity for lawmakers to respond to their constituents.
“Kansans are fed up with Kansas falling behind on important issues like medical marijuana legalization, and we can prove we can do better,” Republican lawmaker told his colleagues in the house.
Republican House majority whip Blake Carpenter said Thursday morning he believes lawmakers could meet before the end of the current term and reach a compromise on the measure.
“I think we have high expectations for this type of bill and we can work together to stay out of the weeds,” said Carpenter.
The Senate’s approval of SB 158 appears unlikely
However, according to reports in local media, the bill is unlikely to be revisited by the Senate before the end of the session. For activists like Lisa Sublett who want to use medicinal cannabis to treat an autoimmune disease, it will likely be at least another year. Nevertheless, she is satisfied with the progress made in the legislature this year.
“It’s been a long road, a long struggle,” said Sublett, who has been campaigning for cannabis policy reform for 10 years. “Even if it’s not all I want, it’s a starting point.”
Opinion polls have shown that over 65% of Kansas residents support medical marijuana legalization. House Democratic minority leader Tom Sawyer said his party will continue to deliver what people have said they want.
“Kansas has needed this for a long time,” Sawyer said. “It’s overdue, but we’re not done yet. We will continue to apply pressure to make sure this bill becomes a reality. The Democratic bipartisan coalition that stood on the committee and on the floor of the House to pass this bill worked extremely hard to ensure that a majority of the votes were heard by Kansans. I am really proud of the work they have done here. “
If SB 158 is picked up by the Senate and passed during the current legislature, the move will be passed on to the desk of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly, who advocates legalizing the medical use of cannabis.
“Medical marijuana legalization is a common policy that would improve the overall health and economy of Kansas as we recover from COVID-19 and beyond,” Kelly said in a statement Thursday.