Medical Marijuana Legalization Fails in Kansas, Many Turn to Missouri for Access

Home » Medical Marijuana Legalization Fails in Kansas, Many Turn to Missouri for Access
Garry Stewart
Written By Steve Brandon

May 10, 2024

medical marijuana legalization fails in kansas, many turn to missouri for access

Kansas lawmakers have missed the mark on passing a medical marijuana legalization program. As a result, around 2,000 Kansans have gone over to Missouri to get their hands on medicinal marijuana licenses. According to a report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, later confirmed by an agency spokesperson, 1,834 people from Kansas currently hold medical marijuana cards.

This number could be significant because it shows how many Kansans might be going to other states like Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado to buy medical marijuana, which is legal there for both recreational and medical use.

In 2021, Kansas House lawmakers voted 79-42 to allow medical marijuana. But Kansas is still one of just ten states where marijuana is illegal and considered a crime.

Kansas Lawmakers’ Struggle: The Battle for Medical Marijuana Legislation

This year, lawmakers who support cannabis tried a last-minute tactic to get a strict medical marijuana program debated and voted on.

But the vote didn’t pass, losing at 12-25. Still, Daniel Shafton, a former president of the Kansas Cannabis Chamber of Commerce and a pro-cannabis lobbyist, says both parties have huge support for the issue. He blames the legislative leaders for blocking the efforts. “The procedural move didn’t get enough votes,” Shafton said. “But don’t be fooled. If there hadn’t been any tricky business, this would have passed. It has the support.”

Since the session ended in late April, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it wants to change how marijuana is classified to show it’s less risky. If the Department of Justice agrees, it would officially acknowledge that marijuana has medical benefits and isn’t as likely to be abused as some other drugs.

Lawmakers Think about Changing Marijuana Laws Due to Federal Changes

Some lawmakers think this could change how the Legislature thinks about marijuana laws. Masterson, who’s a Republican from Andover, said medical marijuana should be taken seriously, especially now that the federal government might change its rules.

He said none of the bills till now made by the Legislature were good enough to give marijuana to patients safely and legally. This could lead to big problems, like in other states.

medical marijuana legalization fails in kansas, many turn to missouri for access

Tax Revenue vs. Potential Problems

Last year, Missouri sold around $17 million worth of medical and recreational marijuana, while Colorado made almost $1.53 billion from marijuana sales. Some people say Kansas is missing out on tax money spent in other states because the sale of marijuana is prohibited there.

Senator Mark Steffen, a doctor from Hutchinson, thinks marijuana isn’t the best choice for treating illnesses when there are other approved options. He says Colorado and Oklahoma had trouble controlling marijuana, leading to more crime and homelessness despite making money from it. “You shouldn’t hurt people just for money,” Steffen said. “If you care more about taxes than people’s lives, you’ve got a moral problem.”

Supporters vs Opposition

Medical marijuana has shown promise in treating various conditions like pain, anxiety, PTSD, and epilepsy. However, there’s still ongoing research on its side effects, which may include psychosis and addiction. Some lawmakers argue for its legalization, emphasizing its benefits for seniors and veterans in need of pain relief.

On the other hand, opponents, like Sen. Mike Thompson, view it as substance abuse, fearing it could lead to more harm than good, particularly with easy access to medicinal marijuana cards. In the absence of regulated cannabis, unregulated products like Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC are widely available, posing health risks to consumers. Kelly Rippel, who works for the Kansas Cannabis Coalition, said that as the FDA does not approve marijuana products, then it might be unsafe for people in Kansas.

Lawmakers warn that continued prohibition only fuels underground markets, highlighting the need for regulated access to prevent illicit activities. With the DEA’s rescheduling of marijuana, there’s new hope for passing medicinal marijuana bills in upcoming sessions. However, recreational legalization is expected to take more time.

Take Away

Despite efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas falling short, thousands of residents are seeking access across state lines in Missouri. This highlights the growing demand for alternative treatments among Kansans and underscores the need for further discussion and action on marijuana legislation within the state. As neighboring states like Missouri move forward with legalization, Kansas lawmakers may face pressure to rethink this issue and address the pressure of revisiting it and addressing the needs of their constituents.

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