Kansas NORML Testimony for 2022 SB560 - Medical Marijuana Senate Hearing.


This is our moment. We finally have a bi-partisan bill in the Senate with a Governor ready to sign and enact.


And we have a hearing TOMORROW at roughly 10:30 am! Watch it LIVE and show your support on the KSLegislature YouTube Channel

If you haven't already, you can read "Senate Bill 560: Enacting the medical marijuana regulation act to regulate the cultivation, processing, distribution, sale and use of medical marijuana." on the Kansas Legislature website.


Below is the official testimony that Kansas NORML has submitted for tomorrow's hearing.

 

OFFICIAL TESTIMONY

March 15th, 2022

Senate Bill 560: Enacting the medical marijuana regulation act to regulate the cultivation, processing, distribution, sale and use of medical marijuana.

Proponent – WRITTEN ONLY Testimony


Esteemed Senate,

This letter is on behalf of Kansas NORML, written by Diane Pettipas, Communications Director.

As an organization we fight for recreational legalization for adults over 21, as Kansans today we are fighting for patients to gain access to safe medicine, and to be able to medicate without undue fear of prosecution or loss of livelihood. While SB560 is a shining example of bipartisan effort, there are 3 areas of the bill we believe need to be addressed as your honors amend and hear the bill, for both the safety and benefit of patients and others. In the interest of brevity, I will be brief and concise.


Our first area of concern affects patient access.

Page 4, lines 2-6 New Section 3 reads “(a) No person shall grow, harvest, process, sell, barter, transport, deliver, furnish or otherwise possess any form of marijuana, except as specifically provided in the medical marijuana regulation act or the commercial industrial hemp act, K.S.A. 2021 Supp. 2-3901 et seq., and amendments thereto.”


Kansas is a broad state, with a very scattered population density. While patients may use Telehealth to see their physician, they may not be able to travel the distances, due to their illnesses, to purchase their medication from the dispensary. Section 8 allows the use of a caregiver to act as a representative for the patients, which is wonderful, but when the nearest dispensary could be 100 miles away, it becomes an issue and an unjust burden on the caregiver to travel such distances for their patients’ medicine. No other medication requires such hoops or distances to attain access, most can be delivered by the postal service – even deadly opiates. Medical Marijuana, on the other hand, cannot be shipped due to its federal legality. We propose that you allow a Patient or Caregiver Cultivation license, that like other states, allows 6 Cannabis plants in a flowering stage of growth. It can be written that the plants must be grown inside a secure, locked structure with adequate exhaust ventilation filtering as to not be indicated by odor. This ensures access to patients in remote areas or counties that will not allow dispensaries.


Our second concern is the lack of support for medical marijuana patients to join, rejoin or remain in the workforce.

Many of the qualifying conditions are also those which qualify and individual for Disability Support. With medical marijuana, many of them may be able to return to the workforce once again as functioning members of society. However, Section 46 (a) and (b) – Page 38, lines 28-37 encourages employers to prohibit and discriminate against medical marijuana patients. Courts in other states have found that the withdrawal of employment for lawful medical marijuana use was found to be grounds for discrimination.

While we recognize the importance of some industries not allowing medical marijuana use, it is probable that a lack of transparency will cause a “don’t ask, don’t tell” environment – which is dangerous for both the employer and employee.

We propose that every employer have an area on the application to SAFELY state if the applicant is a medical marijuana patient. Since it’s the option of the patient to answer, this would not violate HIPAA. Stating “Yes” would NOT disqualify an applicant from a position but would opt them out of the THC portion of the company drug test – which saves the employer a little money. The transparency will also allow employers to know which employees are MMJ patients and allow the employer to conduct their own in-house research regarding productivity and incidents in their specific industry.


Our final concern is in methods of administration.

While it is understandable that smoking causes unwanted public odors – much like tobacco, alcohol, and poor hygiene; and “vaping” cannabis oils in an unregulated market is unsafe, there needs to be a written provision for inhaling cannabis as a method of administration.

Studies have shown that inhalation is the best method for some ailments – such as glaucoma, due to its effects on the blood vessels in the brain and behind the eye. There are also people that lack the proper levels of liver enzymes to process ingested cannabis and receive its medicinal benefits.

Conduction/convection of the dry herb is shown to be one of the safest forms of administration, yet there is no wording to condone this type of administration, which is often known as “dry herb vaping” and is not the traditionally defined term of “vaporization” in this bill.


Please add “Conduction or Convection of plant material is permitted” to the list of approved & prohibited administration methods in Section 30, Page 25, part (b).


In conclusion

We would also like to state that we often see the decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis (under 1/2oz) in states with Medical Marijuana laws. This measure acts as a “compassionate care gesture” for those who are not privy to a physician's care but may still benefit from medical marijuana, or who may be awaiting MMJ license renewal - to not be condemned to prison and have their lives in ruin as so many have unjustly been in the past. Instead, they are fined so the municipality still benefits from the violation. It's important to keep in mind – that the majority of people applying for medical marijuana are already using it – the majority of people in the country are already using it in some form. They already know what amounts control their pain and symptoms. Whether it's legal or not – people are already doing it. This is why there is no dramatic increase in incidents when states legalize – legalization removes the criminal penalty of a victimless crime, it does not increase cannabis use.


Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and your willingness to give Kansans the medical marijuana program they need and deserve.


With highest regard,

Kansas NORML