Kansas senators have shelved a bill to legalize medical marijuana following a hearing that featured multiple opponents, including state law enforcement representatives.
Members of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee voted on Thursday to table the legislation, which the panel itself is sponsoring. Following the action, Chairman Mike Thompson (R) said that lawmakers have “bigger fish to fry,” indicating that he’s not interested in taking the proposal back up before the end of the 2023 session.
Officials with the Kansas Sheriffs Association, Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics were among those who testified against the medical cannabis measure.
Opponents raised concerns about issues such as impaired driving, medical marijuana access in prisons and violent crime allegedly linked to cannabis.
The Oklahoma narcotics agent also argued that his state’s vote against an adult-use legalization initiative at the ballot last week reflected public concern with the existing medical cannabis program.
Stephen Howe, district attorney for Johnson County, alleged that the vast majority of murders and shootings that take place in Kansas are related to marijuana. He said that the legislation “really deeply concerned me from a public health and public safety” standpoint.
Sen. Rick Kloos (R), vice chair of the committee, said during Thursday’s hearing that he was previously a proponent of medical marijuana reform but his perspective has shifted. He apologized to his family and constituents for being “wrong” about the issue in the past.
Lawmakers “have to make these hard decisions because we hear the heartfelt testimonies, and yet we have to look at the facts,” he said. (Full Story)