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Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Inches Closer To Vote In Kansas Committee As Lawmakers Weigh Amendments



A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas took another step toward a House committee vote on Tuesday, with lawmakers introducing a round of amendments for the second day in a row.

The proposed revisions ranged from setting THC potency limits to removing prohibitions on certain methods of consuming cannabis. While it remains to be seen which, if any, the House Federal and State Affairs Committee will adopt, they offer a preview of the kind of debates to expect as lawmakers prepare to take action on the legislation later this week.

The bill, which was introduced last month in the panel, would establish a medical marijuana 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 during Monday’s initial hearing that 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 on Thursday.

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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.

Here’s a summary of the amendments that several lawmakers have proposed: 

Rep. Blake Carpenter (R)

-Make changes to provisions concerning the establishment of a medical marijuana advisory board and the process of adding conditions that qualify patients for cannabis; revise advertising restrictions and licensing requirements for people with prior marijuana-related convictions.

-Change offense for violations of the cannabis law from a misdemeanor to a felony; allow counties to opt out of permitting dispensaries; reduce the amount of time a patient would need to have a relationship with their physician to get a recommendation; create a per-plant fee structure for cultivators; renames the state alcohol regulator to the Division of Alcohol and Marijuana Control; and allow patients to possess cannabis while traveling in the state.

Rep. Randy Garber (R)

-Expand the list of qualifying conditions; loosen restrictions on the vaping ban; remove a requirement to set aside a portion of licenses for minority-owned businesses while eliminating the licensing cap; give regulatory authority to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) instead of the Agriculture Department; 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.

Rep. John Eplee (R)

-Allow state Board of Healing Arts to adopt regulations for medical practitioners who want to issue recommendations.

-Let employers continue to enforce workplace drug testing and penalize workers over medical cannabis use.

-Permit physician designees to assist in medical cannabis recommendations, but not issue them; change to 30-day supply possession limit from 90 days; codify a normal physician-patient relationship and require a physical examination and review of existing medical records; create lab testing accreditations and inspections via ABC; allow regulators to require sample submission of product with no notices; and require dispensaries to appoint pharmacists as consultants.

Rep. Jo Ella Hoye (D)

-Require child-resistant packaging when a marijuana product transfers from a dispensary to patient.

Rep. Eric Smith (R)

-Require tamper-proof, Kansas-specific seal on packaging; impose an open-container law for marijuana products when in a vehicle; and require that cannabis is kept in a locked trunk if the seal is broken.

-Set a 15 percent THC potency cap on marijuana products.

Rep. Steven Howe (R)

-Make it so physicians would have to “prescribe” marijuana, rather than recommend it; only allow licensed physicians to prescribe cannabis; make it so only licensed pharmacists can dispense marijuana products.

Rep. Patrick Penn (R)

-Specify that regulators will define the 90-day marijuana supply that patients are allowed to possess; make a three-tier system of licenses modeled on alcohol to avoid conflicts of interest in the market.

Rep. Paul Waggoner (R)

-Require dispensaries to post warning signs on the potential harms of cannabis for pregnant women and people with psychiatric or emotional disorders.

-Prohibit adding permissible methods of consumption for the first three years that the program is in effect.

-Remove a provision to set aside 15 percent of marijuana business licenses for social equity applicants.

-Strike language providing workplace and housing discrimination protections for medical cannabis patients.

Rep. Brandon Woodard (D)

-Eliminate prohibition on smoking, vaping and combusting medical marijuana.

Woodard also said during Tuesday’s hearing that he’d planned to introduce an amendment to strike all of the language of the medical cannabis bill and replace it with legislation to legalize marijuana for adult use. However, the replacement language—which would reflect a separate reform bill that’s been introduced this session, was not drafted in time.

“If we don’t get it to where we are comfortable, there’s always next year,” Barker said of the amendments to the bill on Monday.

Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has pushed a separate proposal that would legalize medical cannabis and use the resulting revenue to support Medicaid expansion, with Woodard 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.

New York Lawmakers Overcome Marijuana Legalization ‘Impasse’ And Expect Bill In ‘Next Day Or So’

Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem.

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