A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Kansas voted to establish a committee dedicated to pursuing medical cannabis reform in the state with the intention of passing such legislation in early 2023.
The Legislative Coordinating Council voted to form various committees, including the medical cannabis committee, following another legislative session that once again ended without the passage of a medical marijuana bill, despite indications that momentum had been building.
A GOP lawmaker recently introduced a medical marijuana bill to the Senate, while Gov. Laura Kelly had previously made clear she would sign off on such legislation. The Senate held several hearings last session on the medical cannabis measure, but never scheduled a vote.
Meanwhile, a medical marijuana bill passed in the House in 2021, but it has stalled in the Senate. Leaders of both chambers then moved this year to form a bicameral conference committee charged with finding a compromise deal, but were unable to do so before the legislative session ended.
This is in spite of the fact that the two measures are broadly similar, with many sharing key provisions. These include:
- Patients with one or more of twenty qualifying conditions would be eligible for medical marijuana treatment.
- Qualifying patients would be able to access a 30-day supply of medical marijuana at a time.
- Cannabis possession of up to 1.5 ounces by non-qualifying patients would be decriminalized and subject to a $400 fine.
- Medical marijuana recommendations would be valid for 90 days. A physician would then need to review the patient and make another recommendation up to a maximum of three additional 90 day periods. Further extensions would be valid for one year.
- Medical cannabis products would be taxed at 5.75 percent. Local jurisdictions could add another tax.
- Counties would be able to opt out of allowing medical cannabis businesses from operating in its jurisdiction through a resolution.
The House indicated it is willing to accept Senate demands that would push back the start date for the program, remove THC caps on concentrates, and allow reciprocity for out-of-state medical cannabis patients, among others.
The House insists on keeping provisions in its version with regards to removing glaucoma as a qualifying condition, among other issues concerning licensing requirements and payment processes.
Additionally, lawmakers said more time was required to work on issues like advertising restrictions, cultivation rules, and licensing fees.
Sen. Robert Olson indicated to his House counterparts that he would discuss the proposals with Senate leadership in order to arrive at an agreement but they ran out of time.
Now, the newly-formed Special Committee on Medical Marijuana will meet over three days during the summer recess to discuss the reform to Kansas marijuana laws.
The committee members will be appointed by the Senate president and the House speaker.
House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (D) initially wanted the committee to meet for six days, but that has been reduced to three with the possibility of more meetings depending on how the discussions progress.