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Supporters Urge Kansas Lawmakers To Approve Medical Hemp Oil Bill

Stephen Koranda

Parents of children with seizure disorders asked Kansas lawmakers Wednesday to legalize the use of medical hemp oil.

A bill that's before a Senate committee would allow medical use of the oil, which doesn’t induce a chemical high. Kiley Klug came to the Statehouse with her son Owen, who she says suffers up to 20 seizures a day. She says hemp oil could help treat the seizures without the side effects of some other medications.

“Chances are this won’t be the miracle cure that we’ve been hoping for, but we respectfully need you to understand our desperation to give our son a chance to try this treatment,” Klug says. “The real risk is not providing an opportunity to help these sick children. The real risk is suppressing, denying or stalling this bill and allowing these children to continue to suffer."

The bill would also lower penalties for marijuana possession. The Kansas Sentencing Commission said that could free up more than 50 prison beds next year and save the state more than $1.4 million.

Opponents of the legislation will testify Thursday.

Original story from the AP:

Kansas lawmakers are reviewing a bill that would lessen the state's penalties for marijuana possession and allow the limited use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee was meeting Wednesday for the first of two days of hearings on the marijuana legislation. The panel was taking testimony from supporters first and hearing from opponents Thursday.

The House approved the bill last year.

The measure would decrease the maximum penalties for first-time, misdemeanor marijuana possession to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine from a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A second possession conviction would no longer be a felony.

The bill also would allow cannabis to be used in treating seizures and set up a program to research industrial hemp production.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.