After a shortened session dashed hopes for medicinal cannabis legalization in 2020, proponents of the plant are taking a fresh approach for the upcoming legislative session.
Last year, two separate bills were filed pushing for medicinal use, but both died in committee, despite a push to consider cannabis legislation in June when lawmakers convened for a special session. One of the bills offered a more conservative cannabis policy, like that of Ohio.
This year, those pushing to pass the bill are working to create collaborative legislation that appeals to both sides of the aisle, said Daniel Shafton, a consultant for the Kansas Cannabis Business Association.
Shafton said the KSCBA has put significant effort into meetings and webinars with stakeholders and legislators to inform the bill they plan to propose.
“We need to have a cohesive message,” Shafton said. “We were very honest about what needed to happen for us to move forward, and we have been very successfully able to bring a lot of voices to the table in a unified way. We have designed this bill alongside the legislators in a way that really accomplishes major goals from the 2021 Legislature of both sides of the aisle.”
In Kansas, which has already authorized hemp production and the sale of cannabidiol products without tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the next step is legalized medical use. Although such legislation has failed in the past, advocates are confident perception is shifting enough to see a bill through the House and Senate.
Erin Montroy, co-president and CEO of the KSCBA, said a bill will be filed in the first week or so of the legislative session. She said the bill would likely lean toward the conservative end of the spectrum in the early going and could be modified as the session progressed.
“No bill is perfect. No program is perfect,” Montroy said. “If we can get one off the ground and started, we can build on it, and with these relationships that will be much easier down the road.”
Montroy said any legislation would be carefully reviewed and edited to ensure that patient outcomes are at the core of the bill.
“The route that a lot of other states were taking to get there wasn’t really working,” Montroy said. “They were building really robust platforms that sounded like they’d be really beneficial to patients. But without a truly robust business platform, the patient suffers, no matter what the legislation says.”