Updated on June 28, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
The Kansas House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 158 this week. According to NORML, the measure was passed by a vote of 78 to 42 in the House. Before the medical cannabis program can become law, it must still pass the Kansas Senate and gain approval from Governor Laura Kelly (D).
Patients in Kansas who have been fighting for access to cannabis as an alternative therapeutic, will be waiting awhile. In SB 158, the legislation indicates that lawmakers will have until July 1, 2023 to finalize all rules and regulations. And to launch the new medical cannabis program in the state.
What Types of Medical Marijuana Will Be Available for Patients?
The existing legislation in Kansas SB 158 specifies that there will be no smokable types of cannabis permitted. That means patients will not be able to purchase whole flower or raw cannabis or vape cartridges.
Concentrates will not be legalized, but patients will be able to buy cannabis capsules, and tinctures (drops). Infused ointments and creams for inflammation and pain relief will also be available for patients in the Kansas MMJ program.
Requirements to be a Registered Caregiver in the New Kansas Medical Cannabis Program
Caregivers registered in the program will be permitted to buy and possess up to 90-days of medical cannabis for a minor, or patient in their care. However, as SB 158 moves to the Senate for approval, it is expected that a cap on the maximum purchase amount will be specified for both patients and caregivers.
In the Kansas medical marijuana program, a caregiver will need to be 21 years of age or older. Unless the parent is a guardian of the patient who is a minor. Then, the parent/caregiver may be 18 years of age or older, per SB 158 legislation.
Qualifying Health Conditions Patients Must Have to Get a Kansas Medical Card
Unlike some states, Kansas lawmakers have proposed an expansive list of qualifying health conditions. Many states launch their medical marijuana program with a very limited or restrictive number of health conditions. And then are required to amend it, when they realize how many patients they are omitting from the program.
Patients who have one or more of the following health conditions, may qualify to get a medical marijuana card in Kansas:
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Epilepsy or Another Seizure Disorder
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
HIV (Positive Status)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sickle Cell Anemia
Spinal Cord Disease or Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
An expansive list of qualifying health conditions helps provide support to more patients. It also supports the growth of sales of medical marijuana in the legalized state. That means more investment into the budding new cannabis industry in Kansas. And it also means higher tax revenues for the state. That allows for funds to make administration of the medical cannabis program self-supporting. At no additional cost to taxpayers.
A History of Hemp Production and Cannabis Prohibition
Most Americans are familiar with the term “the war on drugs” but not many people understand that the roots of the so-called war was racially motivated. From 1915 to the mid 1930’s, Mexican families and laborers began immigrating in higher numbers. And they settled predominantly into the southern states, including Texas, Arkansas and Kansas.
The massive influx of just under one-million immigrants from Mexico, started a propaganda machine. Cannabis had always been available in the United States. But it was ‘underground’ and the cannabis culture was very secretive. For good reasons too. The penalties for cannabis possession were very severe.
In 1927, Kansas joined a long list of states that decided to ban marijuana. And penalties for use or possession became even harsher. Even though Kansas was a significant hemp producer, with cultivation that reached back to 1864, it wasn’t until 1898 that Kansas actually stopped hemp production.
Kansas moved to decriminalize marijuana possession ahead of SB 158 in 2021. The new proposed laws would make possession a $100 ticket (with no misdemeanor charge). But only for personal-use amounts, non-distribution, and no priors.
Who Will Be Managing the New Medical Marijuana Program?
Licensing for cultivators, third-party laboratory testing, processors, distributors, and retail dispensaries will be managed by the Director of Alcoholic Beverage Control. There will also be a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee under the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Members of the new committee will be selected by July 31, 2021, to start working immediately on the launch of the new program.
The new medical marijuana advisory committee will consist of eight members appointed by Governor Laura Kelly. The constitution of the committee will include at least two practicing physicians.
One advisory member will represent the agricultural sector, and the other will be a specialist in research into drug addiction and treatment. On the Kansas Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, there will also be two representatives from the board of pharmacy; at least one pharmacist will be supportive of patient access to cannabis and alternative medicines.
The role of the advisory committee member that specializes in research, addiction, and treatment, will be to consider petitions from patients. When a patient has a health condition that is not listed on the qualifying conditions list, there will be a process to request authorized use. If approved, a patient with a rare disease (that is not listed on MMJ health conditions list) could be given a Kansas medical card.