Group drafts bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas

01/23/2012 5:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:08 AM

TOPEKA – Dani, a 21-year-old from Wichita, suffers with depression, anxiety and stomach problems.

Marijuana helps her calm down, focus on important aspects of her life, and keep food down. She said it costs her about $20 every two weeks and is more effective than some of the prescription medications that she can’t afford to maintain on a waitress’ wage.

She recognizes that, in Kansas, smoking marijuana could create expensive legal problems, but she said she has found relatively safe ways to get weed without dealing with stereotypical drug dealers.

“As long as it helps, that’s all that matters,” said Dani, who asked that her last name not be used.

Medical marijuana supporters say thousands of other Kansans could safely treat their symptoms with pot more effectively than with traditional pharmaceutical drugs, which often carry their own lists of side effects and dangers.

Supporters plan to advocate their views at the Capitol on Tuesday with a rally at noon and at an informational hearing the House Health and Human Services Committee. Their goal: Make Kansas the 17th state to allow medical marijuana.

The proposal, HB2330, would allow licensed nonprofit groups to grow and dispense up to 6 ounces of marijuana per month to people with a physician’s prescription and cards issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The proposed law would allow marijuana to be used to treat cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, chronic wasting, severe pain, nausea, seizures and other problems.

Their bill appears unlikely to go anywhere, although advocates plan to urge more lawmakers to speak up in favor of the bill, even if it may seem politically unpopular.

Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, said she has heard strong support from a wide range of constituents and believes that attitudes about marijuana have changed in recent years.

“I think there is enormous support for the bill,” she said.

Finney said many fellow lawmakers are afraid to go against House leadership and are remaining silent on the bill.

Nationwide, views toward marijuana continue to evolve.

A Gallup poll last October found that 50 percent of those surveyed favor legalizing marijuana. That’s up from 12 percent who supported it in the Gallup’s first marijuana poll in 1969.

A similar Gallup poll in 2010 found 70 percent of respondents favor making it legal for doctors to prescribe pot to reduce pain and suffering.

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