Last Update: October 14, 2014

Medical marijuana bills stall – change still urgently needed

Two compassionate bills that would have created a workable medical marijuana program for seriously ill patients in Kansas did not advance during the 2014 legislative session. Sen. David Haley sponsored SB 9, and the Standing Committee on Vision 2020 introduced HB 2198. Despite the efforts of those who supported these important bills, both bills stalled in committee when committee leadership refused to conduct hearings necessary for them to advance.

Sadly, residents, including parents of seriously ill children, now feel compelled to move to other states with more compassionate laws that allow regulated access to medical marijuana. Seventy percent of Kansans support medical marijuana, and it received a resolution in support from the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature. The state legislature should stop frustrating the clear will of the voters and allow seriously ill patients to have access to a medicine that is safer than many pharmaceuticals without fear of arrest. Please take a moment to encourage your senator and representative to pass a medical marijuana law that can help seriously ill patients in Kansas.   

As important as it is to provide a safe and effective medicine to seriously ill patients, it is equally important that Kansas abandon its draconian laws related to the possession of a small amount of marijuana. As explained more fully below, Kansas has some of the harshest laws in the country. When 54% of adult Americans believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, and 76% do not believe people should be jailed for possession, it’s past time for Kansas to reconsider the tax dollars spent enforcing such an unpopular set of laws. If you agree, please contact your senator and representative that Kansas remove criminal penalties that can hurt careers, housing, and limit educational opportunities.  

Marijuana laws in Kansas

Possession of any amount of marijuana — even a single gram — can land Kansans in prison 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 now beginning to understand the benefits of a taxed and regulated approach to marijuana access for adults, including Kansas’s neighbor to the west, Colorado. If you agree it's time to take marijuana off the criminal market, legalize it for adults, and tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol, be sure to tell your state senator and representative.

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