Kansas senator pushes for legalization of medical marijuana

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WICHITA, Kan. -- Marijuana sales are booming, drawing people from all over the world to Colorado.

The state legalized recreational use of weed on Jan. 1., and it's an idea that's gaining ground in Kansas.

State Senator David Haley, of District 4, plans to bring Senate Bill 9 to this year's legislative session. The bill is also known as the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act. Haley's proposed the idea in a health committee in the past three sessions -- it's never made the Senate floor.

He said as other states sign on, Kansas needs to be next.

"Beyond being known as the wheat state, in some cases we're known as the weed state," he said.

BENEFITS OF LEGALIZATION
So far, 20 states have legalized medical marijuana. Haley said just like in Colorado, a new law could be huge for the Kansas economy.

"Great opporunity," he said. "It's really something to produce an ag crop like marijuana and to not have it taxed, to not have it regulated, to not get the revenue that Kansas does need for our budget."

Haley, who had been a prosecutor, says other substances are far more dangerous. He said he's seen good people be convicted of crime.

"Their records have been ruined or that they have been subjected to the legal system," Haley said. "And again for using a substance, naturally grown, that is less dangerous to the human body, I believe and many others believe, less dangerous to the human body than let's say tobacco, alcohol or certainly prescription drugs."

CHALLENGES WITH A NEW LAW

Opponents say enforcement could be an issue.

For example, it's illegal to take marijuana -- even for medical use -- into other states that band it. Also, people cannot take the drug onto airplanes, as it violates federal law.

Some in Colorado have expressed concern as to what that will mean for prices, especially for those who use it medically.

Kansas Senator Mitch Holmes, of the 33rd district, spoke about Senate Bill 9 in a Jan. 2 Pratt Tribune column. He says he will not support the bill.

"It probably won't even be debated as a stand-alone bill, but it is almost guaranteed that there will be attempts to amend its contents into other bills that deal with healthcare," he states in the article. "'Medical marijuana' appears to be a strategy to lend credibility to smoking pot and desensitize people to a total end of the prohibition."


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