A medical marijuana program failed to make its way into legislation in 2020, however two Kansas lawmakers have high hopes next year will be different.
As it stands, medical and recreational marijuana is illegal in the state of Kansas. The only exception to this rule is the legalisation of CBD and hemp productions with 0% THC.
Medicinal marijuana patients are also prohibited from possessing and using products even if legally purchased from other states. Furthermore, law enforcement have the authority to place patients under arrest if patients are caught doing so.
However, support for the plant is continually growing. As Finney has witnessed over the years, the acceptance rate among citizens is evolving in a positive way.
"We have more Kansans much more aware, much more educated and informed about the issue, and much more supportive," said Finney.
However, patient access and citizen support are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what a medical marijuana program can achieve for the state.
Senator Haley states that Kansas is an agricultural state and is missing out on the opportunity to reap the rewards of a well-regulated product. Currently, the black market for cultivation and distribution of the plant is running tax and regulation free.
Although there is an existing train-of-thought concerning 'reefer madness', this idea has been "taught in society", Haley states. There are economical benefits to legalising medical marijuana as well as alleviating the burden of stress that comes from acquiring it across state lines.
"It's time we acknowledge that some of our citizens are actually using medical marijuana, even though they may have to travel to another state to get it. We're actually using it and we're losing out on revenues."
Sen. David Haley – Reflector Podcast
While Kansas is still fighting for a medical marijuana program, other states are seeing a boom in tax and sales revenue from cannabis products. In fact, neighbouring state, Colorado, has consecutively hit records throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, its northern neighbour, Nebraska has recently legitimized the Legal Marijuana Now Party after six years and 15,000 signatures. The party's win came shortly after a disappointing ruling by the state's Supreme Court to remove the amendment for a medical marijuana program from the November election ballot.
In fact, a bill was introduced into legislation in early 2020 to implement a medical marijuana program in Kansas. However, it was short lived after the special session to discuss legislation was adjourned due to COVID-19. The next opportunity to re-introduce a bill will be in 2021.
The movement for medical marijuana in Kansas remains optimistic. Kansas State Governor, Laura Kelly has made her support for medical marijuana known, saying that she will sign a medical marijuana bill.
Furthermore, Haley told the Kansas Reflector that there are members of the Conservative Party who are also in favour of medical marijuana.
The need for a bill that will offer "a wide range of support" can only benefit its citizens and the state economy. As it stands, access to medical marijuana is not just about patient access, it's become an issue of personal choice and personal liberty.
Notably, medical marijuana is no longer about access to a 'banned substance', it's become an entitlement. What good can come from denying patients access to what is now becoming a standardised option of healthcare? Thanks to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical marijuana is now considered to be an economy-booster and a pleasantly unexpected reprieve to an otherwise recessive economy.
Either way, 2021 is looking like it will be a turning point in the cannabis industry. Kansas will inevitably catch up with the majority of other states that have implemented medical marijuana programs into state Constitution. It's just a matter of time.
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