Kansas’ cannabis laws will likely remain some of the strictest in the nation when the state’s Legislature adjourns later this month.
Despite multiple efforts to legalize medical cannabis this legislative session, including a House-passed bill that stalled in the Senate, and a Senate bill introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Olson in March, Kansas lawmakers appear unlikely to advance reform when they convene for one final day of work on May 23, NBC-affiliate KSNT reported.
Most recently, a group of House and Senate conference committee lawmakers met on April 27 to draft a new medical cannabis legalization proposal that both chambers could support. Olson chairs the six-member committee.
But the conference committee’s effort likely won’t progress further when lawmakers wrap up their legislative session May 23, Senate leadership spokesman Mike Pirner told Kansas Capitol Bureau on May 9.
“Given we plan to only be there one day, it’s unlikely that work could be completed on that item,” Pirner said.
When the conference committee met last month, Olson expressed optimism about lawmakers from both chambers coming to an agreement.
“We still got some time,” Olson told KSNT last month. “If we don’t get it done this session, … we still have a couple weeks when we come back for sine die to run that. But I believe we’ll probably work hard the next few days trying to get a bill together.”
Before coming together in conference committee, Olson’s sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 560, the Medical Marijuana Regulation Act, sought to include more than 20 qualifying conditions for potential patients.
Some of the key difference between efforts in the two chambers include S.B. 560’s wording to include “any other chronic, debilitating or terminal condition that, in the professional judgment of a physician, would be a detriment to the patient’s mental or physical health if left untreated,” as well as required patient-physician medical relationships, reciprocity for out-of-state patients, equity licensing and effective dates.
Without legalization, Kansas’ laws and penalties stipulate that possessing any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of incarceration and a max fine of $1,000, according to NORML.
Kansas is one of 13 states that has yet to legalize the commercial sale of medical cannabis without low-THC restrictions. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has repeatedly voiced her support for a regulated program, according to Marijuana Policy Project.