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Kansas Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio
Lawmakers and supporters of the bill introduce the legislation. From left to right are Rep. Cindy Holscher, Sen. Tom Holland, veteran Jason Dye and Rep. Jim Karleskint.

Kansas lawmakers have rejected proposals to legalize medical cannabis in recent years. With a new governor in office, a bipartisan group of legislators is hoping this year could be different.

The lawmakers on Thursday announced a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas. It would require a doctor’s recommendation and patients would have to get a card issued by the state. The cannabis could only come from dispensaries licensed by the Board of Pharmacy.

The bill includes an initial 60-day period where cannabis would only be available for military veterans who may be suffering from PTSD or physical injuries from their service.

Democratic state Rep. Cindy Holscher said the plan would give people dealing with chronic pain and other ailments a new option that’s safer than opioids.

“The public’s opinion on this has really evolved very quickly in the past few years as we’ve seen deaths from opioids increasing and addiction rates there," Holscher said. "People need a better option.”

Republican Rep. Jim Karleskint said it’s not a step towards legalizing pot just for fun.

“I’m not in favor of recreational marijuana, but there are so many benefits to the use of medical cannabis that 33 states have it,” he said.

Those states include several neighbors of Kansas: Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

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.