•Chamber avoids debate on amendment for recreational
Republicans and Democrats in the Kansas House banded together in bipartisanship Thursday to approve a medical marijuana bill creating a state-regulated system for growing, processing and distributing the substance for benefit of people with chronic health problems. The GOP caucus fractured on Senate Bill 158, but a landslide of Democrats put the measure over the top. The measure would ban smoking and vaporization of marijuana, but permit consumption by patients under a physician’s care in the form of edibles, oils and patches. It would be allowed in the bill for conditions that included cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease among others. The bill would allow employers in Kansas to prohibit consumption of medical marijuana in the workplace. Rep. Blake Carpenter, the Derby Republican who orchestrated more than four hours of debate on the bill, said he was persuaded to support a highly regulated system legalizing medical marijuana due to conversations with constituents and consideration of his own daughter’s welfare.
“If she was struggling with some disease or seizures, something along those lines, if I could help her, wouldn’t I as a parent do everything I could to make her life better,” Carpenter said. What would I do to make sure she gets the care that she needs?” Prospects of the legislation in the Kansas Senate were considered poor during final days of the 2021 legislative session, said Rep. Vic Miller, a Topeka Democrat.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly previously endorsed passage of a law allowing people to consume marijuana for health purposes and expressed support for recreational consumption. Statewide polling by Fort Hays State University indicated two-thirds of Kansans support legalization of recreational and medical marijuana.
No member of the House offered an amendment to legalize recreational marijuana, which would unlikely receive the necessary 63 votes to advance.
The chamber endorsed amendments to the bill giving county governments the opportunity to opt out of any part of the medical marijuana law, allowing state universities to engage in marijuana research and adding lupus to the list of conditions covered by the measure. Under the bill, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would assign a unique 24-character identification number to each registered patient and caregiver when issuing an electronically scannable card. Upon scanning such identification card or entering such identifica-