A Kansas House committee on Monday got to work on a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state, discussing multiple amendments as members move toward an expected vote later this week.
The legislation, which was introduced last month in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, would establish a medical cannabis program for qualified patients. Members of the panel have already heard testimony from supporters and opponents, and so the next step is to formally consider proposed revisions.
Chairman John Barker (R) said the plan is to have members take most of the week to review the roughly 20 amendments that have been filed and then potentially vote by the end of the week.
As drafted, the bill lists 21 conditions that would qualify patients for the program, including chronic pain, HIV and post-traumatic stress disorder. Smoking and vaping products would be prohibited, however. It would also not provide for home growing.
Rep. Blake Carpenter (R) proposed a wide-ranging amendment that would make changes to provisions concerning the establishment of a medical marijuana advisory board, the process of adding conditions that qualify patients for cannabis, advertising restrictions and licensing requirements for people with prior marijuana-related convictions.
It would also strike language on entering into reciprocity agreements with other states and create a $5,000 fine for dispensaries that disclose patients information.
Rep. Randy Garber (R) also discussed a series of revisions he wants to see, including expanding the list of qualifying conditions, loosening restrictions on the vaping ban, removing a requirement to set aside a portion of licenses for minority-owned businesses while eliminating the licensing cap and giving regulatory authority to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control instead of the Agriculture Department.
The amendment would also enact protections for nurses who treat patients using medical cannabis, add testing provisions, remove a new crime for storing medical marijuana in places accessible to children, tighten residency requirements for business owners and charge fees to cultivators based on plant counts instead of square footage.
Finally, Rep. John Eplee (R) had an amendment related to the process patients would have to go through to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation. He also proposed specifying that employers can continue to enforce workplace drug testing policies. A third amendment from the representative would make changes to physician relationship requirements, pharmacy involvement in the program and laboratory testing for quality assurance purposes.
No votes were taken on Monday, and lawmakers will reconvene to consider more amendments on Tuesday morning.
“If we don’t get it to where we are comfortable, there’s always next year,” Barker said of the amendments to the bill.
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Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has pushed a separate proposal that would legalize medical cannabis and use the resulting revenue to support Medicaid expansion, with Rep. Brandon Woodard (D) filing the measure on the governor’s behalf.
Kelly has she said she wants voters to put pressure on their representatives to get the reform passed.
While both pieces of legislation would make it so Kansas would join the vast majority of states that have legal medical marijuana markets, advocates view them as restrictive, particularly as it concerns the limited methods of consumption that would be permitted.
A separate medical cannabis legalization bill was introduced by the Senate Commerce Commerce last month, though it has not seen action.
The measure’s language largely reflects legislation that was introduced in the House last year. Patients would be eligible for medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation if they have a condition that significantly inhibits their ability to conduct daily activities or if the lack of treatment would pose serious physical or mental harm.
Registered patients would be allowed to grow and possess at least four ounces of marijuana. The bill would also establish a Kansas Medical Cannabis Agency to oversee the program.
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.