In her 2023 State of the State address, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly didn’t mince words on medical marijuana legalization in her state.
Back in 2019, Governor Kelly signed Senate Bill 28 into law, providing an affirmative defense against prosecution for possession of certain cannabidiol (CBD) products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in specific circumstances. At the time, the governor acknowledged Kansas still had a long way to go on medical cannabis.
Nearly 4 years on and it still does.
Lamenting the fact that medical marijuana still hasn’t been legalised in the state, Governor Kelly pointed out in 39 other states patients with chronic pain, seizure disorders, and PTSD can access medical marijuana to relieve their suffering.
Acknowledging legalizing medical marijuana will be complex and effective safeguards are needed to ensure that it’s used appropriately, the Governor said:
“39 other states have figured this out. Surely, Kansas can too,” she stated.
The Governor highlighted a recent incident where police raided the hospital room of a terminally-ill man who was using marijuana to ease his pain. He was then ordered to appear in court. The man died just a couple of weeks ago.
“Every day, thousands of Kansans are forced to choose between breaking the law and living without pain,” said the Governor. “It is an unbearable choice – and an absolutely unnecessary one.”
While Governor Kelly’s comments concerning medical marijuana were generally well received, it’s quite clear opposition remains among some lawmakers in the state; and enough to continue to impede progress.
In a subsequent press conference, Senate President Ty Masterson reportedly made some unhelpful remarks about Governor Kelly’s example that triggered some uproar among medical marijuana advocates. But interestingly, there was no reference whatsoever to medical marijuana in the official Republican response to the State of the State Address.
There will be plenty of pressure on Republicans this year to get with the program. Following the speech, the Kansas Democrats tweeted:
“Now is the time to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas. During this upcoming legislative session, we must pass a bill to support Kansans suffering from chronic illnesses.”