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Medical Marijuana Closer to Passing in Kansas
April 28, 2022
The Federal & State Affairs conference committee tasked with writing a bill that can pass both chambers has met twice this week. Conference committees are a way to speed up the process of sending bills back and forth between the House and Senate. Their job is to iron out the differences between a bill that has been worked in Senate committee and the one that passed the House.
This is likely to be Kansas' final serious effort this year to pass any form of legalization. Opponents in the Senate are expected to cry foul and say that they haven't had a chance to debate and vote on the bill like the House. The bill that passed the House is very similar to the one that stalled in Senate committee. House members who are on the fence might object to some of the changes being pitched by the Senate but I fully expect the bill to pass the House again.
Explanation in a Nutshell of Conference Committees
This part of the process is basically where all the compromises are made. Each chamber will have to give a little to gain what they want in the bill. Once they reach an agreement, the conference committee can report back to their respective chambers and call for a vote. The Senate and House will have to both agree to the bill brought out of the conference committee. If they can agree without changes and approve the bill it would then go to the Governor's desk for her signature.
One big area of difference between what the House wants and what the Senate would like to see passed is the list of qualifying medical conditions. Representatives have long been in favor of a very conservative and restrictive list of conditions that a patient would need to have in order to obtain a medical marijuana license. The Senate bill is more liberal with its qualifying conditions.
Negotiations & Compromises So Far
House negotiators have already agreed to include a license reciprocity for out-of-state patients. This would surely lead to Kansas patients being allowed to use their medical license in neighboring states like Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma which all have medical marijuana programs. House members also agreed to preventing real estate discrimination of registered medical marijuana patients.
Likelihood of Passing this Year
This is the closest that Kansas has ever been to legalizing medical marijuana. Many legislators want to deliver on this issue for voters this fall. Governor Kelly would love to be the chief executive who brings the cannabis industry to Kansas. Over two-thirds of Kansans support legalization. The only thing standing in the way at this point is time. With every passing day the legislature inches closer to adjourning for the rest of the year.
Conference committee members cannot afford to spend too much time going back and forth. They have spent years discussing this issue, listened to hours of testimony, toured cannabis facilities in other states, and have become well versed in cannabis policy making. It has already passed the House but Senate leadership stood in the way of progress, until they allowed the formation of this conference committee. Are they dangling a carrot or are they actually going to give medical marijuana a fair chance at passage this year?