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Kansas Legislature needs to step up and sign off on medical marijuana this session. And let’s keep talking.



TOPEKA, Kan. – The time has come to legalize medical cannabis in Kansas.

The testimony of advocates has accumulated. Just read about the story of Kiley Klug and her son Owen in last week’s Topeka Capital-Journal. His constant seizures couldn’t be treated through traditional means. Cannabis worked. As it has for so many people grappling with a diverse array of medical challenges.

Kansas advocates celebrated a milestone moment last week, Andrew Bahl wrote, when “the House Federal and State Affairs Committee approved legislation to create a medical cannabis program in Kansas — one without several key restrictions that some worried would limit its effectiveness.”

That’s a good first step. But you can hear the hemming and hawing from many legislators, from those concerned that too many people might access cannabis, from those worried about how much THC is allowed, from those counting the number of possible dispensaries.

This is all nonsense.

Doctors across the state can — and do — prescribe a host of medications more addictive and potentially life-destroying than cannabis. You can pick up a vial of Vicodin or Percocet. You can be prescribed opioids.

What’s the difference between those drugs and cannabis? They’re created by pharmaceutical companies and have giant marketing budgets.

Some lawmakers also grumble that medical cannabis is simply a first step toward full acceptance of the substance. To which we say — let’s have that conversation. Has Colorado, with fully legalized recreational cannabis, become a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Have its residents started wild crime sprees?

Or has it simply legalized a product that has medical and everyday applications?

Think of all the people serving jail time or probation on marijuana-related charges. Think of all the law enforcement time spent on pursuing cases and charges for nonviolent drug offenses. Think of all the lives ruined by a punitive approach to this drug.

We don’t expect the law to change overnight in Kansas. But legislators should understand that prohibition of cannabis serves no good purpose.

Kansans are already consuming the substance, as they have for decades. (A shocker, we know.) Making the sale and use of cannabis legal in some capacity, while allowing for tax collections and more monitored use, would result in a safer approach that’s better for everyone.

Let’s start with medical cannabis and see how that works out. And then let’s keep having the conversation.