Medical Marijuana long overdue in Kansas

Medical Marijuana long overdue in Kansas

In yet another legislative session, the possibility of Kansans obtaining needed relief through regulated medical marijuana has gone down in flames.

Earlier this month, a Senate committee shelved a bill that would have allowed those suffering from more than 20 different conditions the ability to have their doctors allow them to use marijuana as a form of treatment. This after the House passed a medical marijuana bill in 2021. However, the hard-line is Senate leadership decided they couldn't be bothered with this.

Kansas is one of only three states without any form of legalized marijuana. This was a mild, reasonable measure with numerous safeguards in place. 

As proposed, patients would have to register with the state, get permission – and renewals – from a doctor, and buy the marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries. On top of that, the state would get 10 percent of the sale.

The relief would come for unfortunate fellow Kansans afflicted by such ailments as cancer, chronic pain and spinal cord injuries; not for those seeking recreational drug use.

Our neighbors in Arkansas and Oklahoma allow it and those states are as conservative as Kansas, if not more so.

In all, 37 states have gotten wise and allowed it, helping those who cannot tolerate conventional pain medicine.

I know first-hand what that situation is like. Back in the mid-1970s, my mother went from a normal, healthy woman to virtually a human skeleton because of a fast-moving case of colon cancer.

In her final days, the only relief she found was in marijuana, which eased the pain, as conventional drugs made her more nauseous.

Of course, it was illegal back then, but we managed to obtain some. Families with such cases shouldn't be made into criminals merely for seeking relief for their loved ones.  

While legislative leaders have thrown up a brick wall, other Kansans are voicing their support, including senior volunteers at the Silver-Haired Legislature who recommend policy to lawmakers.

As they point out, 28 bills concerning this issue have been introduced during the past 17 years. None of them have been made into law. That's a real shame.

Among the supporters are Gov. Laura Kelly and former U.S. District Attorney Barry Grissom.

"Cannabis prohibition is simply bad public policy," said Grissom, who also shared a story of a military veteran he represented with PTSD that had side effects from standard drugs, but found that marijuana was able to manage the condition.

Polls also show widespread and growing support.

With those supporting marijuana legalization, 86 percent say the medicinal benefit is the top reason, according to a recent Gallup poll. Overall, 66 percent of Americans support complete legalization, according to Gallup, up from only 12 percent in 1970.

However, those blocking progress on this include Sen. Ty Masterson, whose district includes parts of Derby. I've read the opposition viewpoints, and I just don't buy them.

Among them is the long-held belief that it will lead users to other drug use. The people seeking medical marijuana are looking for pain relief, not the latest high. If anything, state regulation will take the criminal element out of the picture, not increase it.

Plus, it could put a dent in the widespread illegal opioid drug problem. The point is, if you're in constant pain, you'll do almost anything to ease it. I had a taste of that a few years ago after a medical procedure with two months of chronic anguish. I can't even imagine a lifetime of that.   

It's time for the Legislature to stop putting our fellow citizens through unnecessary pain.

Let's hope 2024 is the year that happens.

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Region: Kansas


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