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Three Things To Know About The State Of Cannabis In Kansas

Harvest Public Media/File photo
Some farmers can now look at the possiblity of growing hemp — good for industrial use, no good for getting high — after changes made in Kansas law.";s:

This winter we reported that Kansas is one of just four states with the strictest cannabis laws in the country.

But the 2018 legislative session that ended earlier this month shook the state’s legal landscape. So what has changed and what hasn’t?

CBD is now legal

Quick recap: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the compounds in the cannabis plant that doesn’t get people high, and that advocates say has medical benefits. Some studies have found it helps people suffering from seizures.

Shops in Kansas were certainly selling it and people were buying, but both were technically crimes because whether they get you high or not, CBD products counted as marijuana under Kansas law.

What do we and don’t we know about the medical effects of marijuana and related products? Here’s a handy review from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

So this year — after years of pleas from the family members of people suffering seizures — lawmakers tweaked the law.

CBD is now legal after Gov. Jeff Colyer signed legislation Monday. And unlike some states — Missouri, for instance, legalized it with tight limits on either who can sell it or who can buy it — Kansas opted for broad access.

Hemp is back

Growing this crop used to be legal and common. In 2014, the federal government began allowing it again in limited circumstances. Hemp is in a bunch of products — fabrics, foods, building materials, you name it — but right now the U.S. mostly imports from places like Canada and China.

Hemp comes from the same plant species as marijuana, just a different variety with taller stalks (to maximize fiber yield) than the one people use to get high.

Kansas is taking the federal government up on its offer to allow regulated pilot programs for growing, researching and selling hemp. The state agriculture department is working on finding farmers and setting up that program.

Want more background on hemp and other products? Read our primer

Among the questions they’ll be exploring are which hemp seeds best suit Kansas growing conditions and how drought-tolerant they are.

Marijuana is still a no-no

So here’s a good rule of thumb now for cannabis-related products in Kansas...Does it get you high? Yes? It’s definitely illegal.

At least 30 states let people use marijuana. In most of them, you need a doctor’s prescription.

Kansas advocates of medical marijuana continue to push for that, but neither their House bill nor Senate bill got a hearing this year.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen is based in the Kansas News Service’s Topeka newsroom. She writes about how the world is transforming around us, from topsoil loss and invasive species to climate change. He aims to explain why these stories matter to Kansas, and to report on the farmers, ranchers, scientists and other engaged people working to make Kansas more resilient. Email me at celia@kcur.org.