As of November last year, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana in the U.S. and now Kansas seems like the latest in the country to take that plunge. A Kansas medical marijuana bill is being pushed by Sen. David Haley who wrote the bill and began discussing it in a committee on Monday. Kansas has been strict with marijuana in the past. This is not the first Kansas medical marijuana bill to be presented but it’s possible that demand and the continual destigmatizing of marijuana around the country will influence legislators to review and change the current laws.
Leaving Kansas in Search of Medical Marijuana
As it stands, residents who are sick and parents with children suffering from seizures have had to leave the state in order to get access to medication. Kake.com spoke to the mother of a 10 year old girl who suffered from epileptic seizures. After years of watching her daughter suffer, Tracy Marling decided to move to Colorado which has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana. Her daughter is now doing better and receiving treatment. She said, “If there is something that helps somebody this much, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have access to it, to better their life.”
The Majority of Kansans Want Decriminalization
While there are still states around the country that haven’t legalized medical marijuana, many of them have chosen to decriminalize it. This means that as opposed to being arrested, jailed, fined and receiving a criminal misdemeanor, marijuana possession just becomes a civil affordable fine, like getting a parking ticket. In July last year, Kansas reduced the sentences for marijuana possession by half but it is still considered a criminal offense which results in a criminal record that could affect future employment, housing and education. Recent polls, however, show that 63 percent of Kansas residents want marijuana decriminalized.
The Benefits of Legalizing Kansas Medical Marijuana
Haley’s bill would allow people with specific medical conditions to have a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. He has made it clear he thinks the bill is overdue and that it will help the state, both medically and financially, as tax revenue would be in the millions annually. “The benefits far outweigh the detriments,” says Haley. In states where marijuana has been legalized, the number of opioid related deaths dropped dramatically. It also tends to drop the number of people addicted to heroin or prescription medication. This is another hope that Kansas medical marijuana advocates have been talking about.
Legislators have been hesitant to pass medical marijuana bills in the past. Marijuana remains illegal on a federal level and is still considered a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is considered as dangerous and addictive as heroin, having no medicinal value. Until federal law is updated, the marijuana industry and U.S. residents have marijuana restrictions in place. So far, the federal government is allowing states to run and manage their own marijuana laws. As Hale’s bill pushes forward we will soon see if Kansas will be the newest state to end prohibition in some way this year.