Momentum for medical cannabis grows; legislature is now in session!
Last update: January 23, 2019
After Missouri voters legalized medical marijuana on November 6, 2018, Kansas is now surrounded on three sides by states that have legalized either medical marijuana or marijuana for adults’ use. Newly elected Gov. Laura Kelly supports medical marijuana for Kansans.
Please click here to ask your lawmakers to support access to medical marijuana in Kansas, which 68 percent of Kansans support.
Kansas passes law allowing CBD products with zero THC
In 2018, Kansas finally passed a law acknowledging the medical efficacy of cannabis for the first time ever, leaving Idaho standing alone as the only state in the union yet to do so. The new law, SB 282, was signed by former Gov. Jeff Colyer in May and changed the definition of “marijuana” to exclude cannabidiol (CBD). The bill took effect May 24, 2018.
However, because state law separately bans tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), it may be difficult for medical cannabis patients to take advantage of this provision, because most CBD products contain at least trace amounts of THC (“hemp” is sometimes defined as 0.3% THC or less). The bill does not provide for in-state access to CBD oils in Kansas.
While there are a number of “CBD” products available online or in stores, these products are typically unregulated, and consumers should be cautious. Unfortunately, some products do not actually contain the amount of CBD on the label — or any at all — or they also contain THC or dangerous compounds such as heavy metals. CBD oil sold in licensed cannabis retailers in states like Colorado, with a regulated market, are subject to laboratory testing, but getting to such stores could be costly and onerous for patients in Kansas.
Despite its limitations, this is a significant step forward for Kansas. Hopefully, it is also a step towards meaningful access to regulated and tested medical cannabis, which studies show can provide relief for patients suffering from serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy and is linked to a 25% reduction in opiate overdose deaths.
Bills reducing penalties for marijuana and paraphernalia possession passed in 2016 and 2017
During the 2016 session, the Kansas Legislature enacted HB 2462, which took effect on July 1, 2016. It reduced penalties for first-time marijuana possession by half, from one year to six months in jail. A second offense was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year.
A lengthy bill that included a minor penalty reduction, SB 112, passed during the 2017 session and took effect May 18, 2017. It reduced the maximum penalty for possession of marijuana paraphernalia (such as grow lights) used to cultivate five or fewer plants from one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. This change does not impact the penalty for growing marijuana, which is a separate crime.
Given that recent polls show that 63% of Kansans support decriminalizing marijuana and imposing a civil fine, there is tremendous support for a further step — eliminating criminal penalties altogether. If you agree, ask your legislators to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession.
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