In February of this year the 2010 Medical Marijuana Act was introduced to the Kansas House by Rep Gail Finney; the bill is now before the Health and Human Services Committee. As is the situation in the 14 legalized states, the bill proposes that medical marijuana use should be allowed by patients suffering severe and debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma.
Ms Finney explained her position on the topic of medical marijuana as follows:
“… I introduced The Kansas Medical Marijuana Act (HB 2610) to the Health and Human Services Committee. It will legalize the use of marijuana with a prescription from a doctor. As a sufferer of lupus, I am very sympathetic to those with diseases such as cancer and HIV, and I think the chronically and terminally ill should be allowed to use the medicine that works best for them without having to fear being arrested or thrown in jail. Also this bill makes sure the money generated from medical marijuana stays in Kansas by requiring that the marijuana be grown in Kansas.”
One experience that helped form Ms Finney’s sympathetic stance was meeting a man who not only battles with pancreatic cancer but with the judicial system too, since his prosecution for using marijuana to help ease the nausea and pain caused by his disease.
Rep Finney says, “To me, I think we’re making criminals out of a lot of our citizens, and those people are in some of the most vulnerable positions now. I just don’t think we need to penalize or criminalize our illest citizens.”
The legislation calls for the creation of “compassionate care centers” where patients who have the backing of their doctors and who hold medical marijuana cards would be able to purchase and use medical grade cannabis.
Opposing Finney is Kansas City Star, Rep. Scott Schwab, R–Olathe. “Let’s be honest,” he says, “this would be an attempt to legalize marijuana. It has no benefit for pain management. All it does is make you crave another bag of chips.”
Nevertheless, this is not the view of the Center for Medical Cannabis Research (CMCR). The CMCR Report to the California Legislature stated “… we now have reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system … and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.”
Supporters of the Kansas Medical Marijuana Act are in favor of legalization for several reasons, not least of which is its potential as a cash-crop. Kansas, along with many states, faces a budget deficit of around $450m at the end of this financial year; and Kansas has acre upon acre of rolling cropland. So could regulation and taxation of cannabis help pay off the debts?
One Kansas City resident, Erin Schwartz, believes,” The economy would most likely surplus if pot were to be legally grown domestically and taxed. It is, after all, the nation’s number one cash crop.”
Then, of course, there’s the cost of processing ‘criminals’ through the justice system – in 2006 marijuana arrests cost the state $69.41 million. And then there is prison overcrowding…
It’s going to be a busy summer for Gail Finney and her supporters.