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Kansas House sends medical marijuana bill to Senate vote

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 3:19 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas House of Representatives has voted to send a medical marijuana bill to a Senate vote.

The Kansas House of Representatives voted 79 to 42 on Thursday to pass a medical marijuana bill for the state onto the Kansas Senate. Kansas Democrats say this was the first hurdle toward legalizing medical cannabis.

“I think we have high expectations for this type of bill and we can work on it jointly, together to stay out of the weeds,” said House Majority Whip, Blake Carpenter and the bill’s carrier at the beginning of debate Thursday morning.

This is the first time a bill for medicinal marijuana has passed out of committee and up for a full floor debate.

Carpenter, a Republican from Derby, said his stance on legalizing medical marijuana changed after the birth of his daughter and thinking if she was born with any illnesses he would do anything he could to take away her pain.

Some Republicans, like Rep. Adam Thomas of Olathe viewed the bill as a chance for new opportunities for Kansas.

“Kansans are tired of Kansas falling behind on major issues like legalizing medical marijuana and we can prove we can do it better,” he told the chamber.

Not all Republicans were sold, some like Rep. Pat Proctor of Leavenworth warned of the dangers of marijuana and what could be ulterior motives of the bill.

“It just reveals the intent of this bill is to create the recreational marijuana business,” he said.

“The state of Kansas is finally catching up to the twenty-first century,” said Representative Louis Ruiz, Ranking Member on the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. “Kansans need to have access to all possible health options available to them, especially if they are experiencing chronic illnesses. This bill will do exactly that. Many of our neighboring states have passed similar legislation. It’s time for us to do the same.”

According to Kansas Democrats, a large number of states across the nation have passed or started to address passing legislation to legalize cannabis in some form. A recent poll in Kansas shows that over 65% of residents would support legalization.

“Kansas has needed this for a long time,” said House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer. “This is well overdue, but we’re not finished yet. We will continue to put the pressure on to make sure this bill becomes a reality. The bipartisan coalition led by Democrats that stepped up in committee and on the House floor to pass this bill worked extremely hard to ensure the majority of Kansans’ voices are heard. I’m really proud of the work they’ve done here.”

The bill now goes to the Kansas Senate for a motion to concur before it can be handed to Governor Laura Kelly for her signature.

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