Medical marijuana is back on the cards in Kansas after a GOP senator introduced a bill to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Sen. Robert Olson is the sponsor behind the Medical Marijuana Regulation Act, which would enable patients to legally obtain medical marijuana to treat one of twenty conditions, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and autoimmune disorders. The measure is broadly similar to a separate bill passed by the House in Kansas one year ago, but which failed to clear a Senate committee.

Olson’s bill is currently under review by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which Olson chairs.

The proposed reform to Kansas’ marijuana laws would also allow patients to seek medical cannabis treatment for a condition not included on the list for “any other chronic, debilitating or terminal condition that, in the professional judgment of a physician licensed in this state, would be a detriment to the patient’s mental or physical health if left untreated.”

Personal cannabis possession limits for qualifying patients would be set at a 30-day supply, or three ounces of cannabis flower, but this could be increased for patients under special circumstances “upon submission of a written certification from two independent physicians that there are compelling reasons for the patient or caregiver to purchase greater quantities of medical marijuana.”

A physician’s medical marijuana recommendation would be valid for 90 days. When that expires, the recommendation may be renewed a further three times for 90 days each time. After that, the patient would once again have to undergo a physical examination.

Kansas’ medical marijuana program would fall under the authority of several regulatory bodies under the proposal – the state Department of Health and Environment, Board of Pharmacy, Board of Healing Arts and a renamed Alcohol and Cannabis Control Division. The measure would further establish a medical marijuana advisory committee to guide the regulators and provide oversight. Olsen’s bill sets a date of January 1, 2024 by which the rules and regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program must be in place.

The legislation would create five different business licensing categories for the medical cannabis industry: cultivators, processors, distributors, retailers, and laboratories. Those with felony convictions, including cannabis offenses, would be ineligible to apply for a marijuana business license unless the record had been expunged at least 10 years prior.

The bill, however, contains no provisions to facilitate expungement of cannabis-related criminal records, nor to afford licensing priority to those groups and individuals most harmed by marijuana criminalization in Kansas.

Home cultivation for medical marijuana patients would be prohibited, and smoking or vaping would also not be allowed in spite of the fact that dispensaries would be permitted to sell cannabis flower.

Local counties would reserve the right to prohibit medical marijuana businesses from operating in their jurisdictions.

If the measure clears the legislature in Kansas, it’s likely Gov. Laura Kelly will sign the measure into law. Last year, the governor said she would like the state to pass the reform, and while she is not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, she wouldn’t rule it out should such a bill find its way to her desk.

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