Well Kansas, you almost had it. Earlier this month Dave Haley, a state rep. from Kansas City, introduced Senate Bill 9 which would have legalized medical marijuana in the Sunflower State. Unfortunately, the bill already seems doomed to meet the fate of the three unsuccessful medical marijuana bills from previous years.
The bill would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for certain qualifying conditions like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. Patients could grow up to twelve plants in their home and possess up to six ounces at a time. Commercial medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed, and would be regulated by the state health department. Marijuana paraphernalia would also be allowed.
The bill would have allowed doctors to recommend medical marijuana for certain qualifying conditions like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. Patients could grow up to twelve plants in their home and possess up to six ounces at a time. Commercial medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed, and would be regulated by the state health department. Marijuana paraphernalia would also be allowed.
Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, says the bill won't see the light of day in 2013. In fact, the bill isn't even up in the Public Health and Welfare committee website. Pilcher-Cook hasn't returne calls for comment, but previously told the Kansas City Star that the bill would be a waste of time and money for legislators to even discuss
"I don't think the Legislature would be for it," she said. "We have a very limited session. You have to look at the opportunity costs."
Haley was unavailable this morning, but said he would get back to us later today (we'll update the post when he does. He recently told the Star that doesn't understand why people are opposed to medical marijuana. "Kansas is a conservative state, but this is not a conservative or liberal issue," Haley said. "This is a public safety issue. Many of the opioids and other narcotics these patients take now carry serious side effects ..."
If miraculously passed, the bill would include Kansas in the 18 states (and Washington D.C.) that allow citizens to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Possession of marijuana currently is a misdemeanor in Kansas, with up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines for a first offense. Same goes for paraphernalia possession. Second offenses for any amount is a felony and can get you nearly four years in jail and up to $100,000 in fines. Cultivation of more than five plants is a felony, with a minimum of 12 years in prison.
Update (4:20 p.m. MST Jan. 28): We just spoke with Sen. Haley, who tells us he's disappointed in the reaction from his cohorts in the Kansas legislature - and for the second straight year, he added. Haley's 2012 attempt was shot down in a similar manner.
"What I expect from leadership in the Kansas legislature is to look at data from those jurisdictions around the country that have had some form of medical marijuana or cannabis compassion in place and to analyze that data in a neutral view," he said. "We need people to get over the stigma and to look at the facts. That's all I want any professional lawmaker to do."
He says he took an informal poll of people at the state fair in Hutchinson, Kansas and estimated that about seventy percent of the hundreds of people he talked to were in favor of allowing doctors to recommend cannabis to people with state-approved qualifying conditions.
"If legislators in 201 examine the data and listen to our constituents, we would have a legislative review by those who are proponents and by those who are opponents," he said. "I think stigma, prejudice and frankly ignorance are what it is keeping this from being discussed. Overcoming ignorance and stigma should be the challenge of any elected official."