Kansas inches toward reform in 2016

 

Last update: February 2, 2016

 

This legislative session, a very limited medical cannabis bill has passed the Kansas House of Representatives and is moving forward in the state Senate. The bill — which is now SB 147 — would allow some seriously ill Kansans to use low-THC cannabis to treat seizures, while setting up a realistic system for in-state access. While these types of bills leave many patients behind, this is still meaningful progress in a state where medical marijuana bills have been introduced for several years but have not passed either chamber.

Yet, 68% of Kansans want their legislators to go further and support broader access to medical marijuana. Please take a moment to let your representatives know you support compassionate access to medical marijuana in Kansas.

In addition, the Kansas Legislature is considering a bill that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession. Currently, Kansas has draconian penalties, discussed in more detail below. Given that recent polls show that 63% of Kansans support decriminalizing marijuana and imposing a civil fine, there is tremendous support for a more modest step to reduce penalties.

 


Marijuana laws in Kansas

 

Possession of any amount of marijuana — even a single gram — can land Kansans in jail for up to a year, as well as a $1,000 fine. If they’re caught with marijuana again, they could be convicted of a felony and face up to three and a half years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Studies have shown that these types of harsh penalties do not reduce marijuana consumption rates, and law enforcement efforts take time away from serious crime. Instead, they cost taxpayers money and needlessly ruin lives. It’s time for a different approach. Based on 2012 figures reported by state law enforcement to the FBI, there were over 4,700 arrests or citations for marijuana-related offenses during the year in Kansas, most of them for possession. During the same period, over 92% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and over 66% of all reported rapes went unsolved by law enforcement.

Many legislators around the country are beginning to understand that branding marijuana users with a life-long criminal record can hurt careers, housing, and educational opportunities. If you agree, you can ask your senator to support a bill that would reduce criminal penalties for possession. Or, ask your legislators to go further and remove criminal penalties for use of marijuana.


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Pending Legislation