An Encouraging Outlook for Cannabis in Kansas
Legislators will tour a grow operation before returning to Topeka to present a bill to legalize medical marijuana as more lobbying groups push for reform.
The Kansas legislature has spent an unbelievable amount of time debating cannabis reform bills, especially in the last few years. Numerous bills have been stalled in committees, countless have never seen the light of day, and just one made it to the floor of the House and was passed. Now as the next session is set to convene in a few weeks we are seeing promising signs that Kansas might be the next state to legalize medical marijuana.
Sen. Rob Olson [R-Olathe] who serves as the influential chair of the Special Committee on Medical Marijuana says that he’ll introduce the bill at the start of the legislature’s session in January. This is crucial because the worst roadblock for cannabis bills in Kansas has been time. They were awfully close when the session was abruptly cut short in 2020. After the House passed their bill, there wasn’t enough time for the Senate to work the bill. Perhaps bringing it forward on the Senate floor straight away will allow for ample time to get it through the tangled web of the legislative process.
However, the second biggest hindrance to marijuana reform is Senate President Ty Masterson [R-Andover]. During the election cycle we assumed that Sen. Masterson wouldn’t allow Gov. Kelly [D] the victory of medical marijuana. Unfortunately he continues to stick to his script that cannabis reform will not be a priority of his chamber. It’s likely that members of the Senate, even from within his Party, will dial up the pressure. Sen. Olson’s plan to get the bill before the Senate as early as possible is going to force the issue to be front and center.
Opponents will argue that the bill hasn’t been worked throughly and transparently through the legislative process. On the contrary, many Representatives and Senators alike have been involved in the process of crafting cannabis legislation. The special committee tasked with ironing out the details is comprised of pro-weed lawmakers as well as members of the “Reefer Madness Caucus.” Committee members will be touring a marijuana grow facility before returning to Topeka to present the bill that Sen. Olson will introduce. As long as the two chambers can compromise and come up with a solution Governor Kelly will sign the bill into law, allowing Kansans the freedom to choose medical marijuana for their treatment plan.
In another sign that medical marijuana will have a good chance of passing in 2023, the Kansas Farm Bureau added the issue to their list of lobbying priorities. Along with Americans for Prosperity, these two organizations have a lot of influence over conservative lawmakers who haven’t been as willing to pass reform. Kansas will want to act swiftly now that two neighboring states have adult-use cannabis available and Oklahoma may join those ranks next year.