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In the News: Will Kansas Legalize Medical Cannabis?

Kansas may legalize medical cannabis, but it won’t be easy to get.  Read on and find out what medical cannabis in Kansas might look like and who may have access to it. 

Just last week, Virginia became the 16th state to legalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. While this is exciting news for those in the cannabis industry, there are still several states with strict zero-tolerance policies. Kansas, however, could soon join the ranks of states with legal medical cannabis. 

After several amendments, Kansas lawmakers sent the Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act to the house floor for a vote. While this is the farthest a cannabis bill has ever made it in Kansas, it's still an uphill battle. The House has already rereferred the bill to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs and is adjourned until May 3rd. Even if the bill manages to pass, however, some still view it as too restrictive. 

For those advocating for medicinal cannabis, the big questions are WHO will have access, HOW do they qualify, and WHAT cannabis products will be legal. Despite conservative roadblocks, it seems that Kansas businesses and consumers are ready for medical cannabis.

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In the News: Will Kansas Legalize Medical Cannabis?

We understand this is a big deal, so here’s the short version...

  • If the Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act passes without further amendments, a patient will have to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition. 
  • Previously, the bill required a minimum year-long relationship between a patient and their physician before a recommendation would be considered. However, recent amendments cut that down to a single examination.
  • Registered patients will be able to legally purchase, possess, and use an amount of medicinal cannabis that doesn’t exceed their 30-day supply.
  • Kansas won’t limit the number of businesses that can grow, sell, and/or manufacture cannabis products, but Kansans will not be permitted to grow their own cannabis at home.
  • The bill also only allows oils, tinctures, plant material, patches, or edibles and excludes smoking or vaping products.
  • The ban on smoking/vaping products poses problems for certain patients, but it’s made even more complicated by the fact that many Kansans are already smoking or vaping CBD or Delta-8 THC products.
  • Large and small businesses are anxiously awaiting the legalization of medical cannabis to take advantage of potential profits. The success of both CBD and Delta-8 THC products indicates a legal medical cannabis market will be very popular with Kansas consumers.

What’s in the Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act?

Before lawmakers approved the bill, several amendments were made to speed up the qualification process for patients and to expand the list of qualifying conditions. However, the bill is still very restrictive in several regards.

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WHO Would Be Able To Purchase Medical Cannabis

The list of qualifying conditions includes over twenty different health issues (cancer, PTSD, several neurological conditions, etc.), and a patient must apply for registration through a physician. Previously, the bill required a year-long relationship between patient and physician, but an amendment reduced that requirement to a single examination to determine whether a cannabis recommendation is appropriate. 

The application submitted by a physician must include proof of relationship, information about the diagnosed qualifying medical condition, an information request from the prescription monitoring program database covering the last twelve months for the patient, and several other items depending on the patient’s age and caregiver situation. After the application is approved and the patient pays the required fee, the patient will receive their identification card. 

Registered patients will be able to legally purchase medical cannabis from licensed retail dispensaries, possess and use necessary paraphernalia/accessories, and possess and use an amount of medical cannabis that doesn’t exceed their 30-day supply. 

Unlike surrounding states with medical cannabis, like Missouri, Kansas won’t limit the number of businesses that can grow, sell, and manufacture these products. The biggest restrictions are in regard to what type of products will be legalized.

What Products Will Be Available?

The Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act would only allow for oils, tinctures, plant material, patches, or edibles and excludes smoking or vaping products. The actual bill states, “The smoking, combustion or vaporization of medical marijuana is prohibited.” It also specifies that plant material cannot exceed 35% THC and extracts cannot exceed 70% THC content in their final forms. While petitions requesting alternative forms of medical cannabis are allowed, it’s very possible they will be denied. If that happens, the same petition cannot be resubmitted for 12 months. Kansans will also not be allowed to grow at home. 

The Prohibition of Inhalable Cannabis Products is Complicated

While it’s pretty common for conservative states to ban home growing, there are still several items that complicate the success of this bill even if it manages to pass. First, the ban on products intended to be inhaled is problematic for patients who need emergency relief. The reason behind the prohibition is to deter products that may attract children. Doing so, however, will put certain patients at a disadvantage. 

When cannabinoids are inhaled, they’re able to get into the bloodstream much faster which means the effects kick in within just a few minutes. Oils and tinctures, which can be taken sublingually, take effect in fifteen to thirty minutes. Edibles, which have to pass through the digestive system, can take anywhere from thirty minutes to over an hour to take effect. For patients with PTSD or chronic pain conditions, that extra time can lead to unnecessary pain and/or panic attacks. 

It’s also important to remember that Kansans have been able to smoke and vape CBD for several years now. In addition to the booming CBD industry in Kansas, another cannabinoid has recently grown in popularity. 

THC (also known as Delta-9 THC or Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive cannabinoid that most lawmakers are concerned with. However, delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (or Delta-8 THC for short) provides effects that are similar to Delta-9 THC but much less potent. And so long as it’s extracted from hemp, it’s legal. 

Kansas Businesses Are Ready for Medical Cannabis

Kansas businesses large and small are keeping a close eye on the progress of this bill. The success of both CBD and Delta-8 THC products has many business owners believing a legal medical cannabis market will be popular with Kansas consumers.

Jessi Brown, the owner of a small natural health and wellness store in Southeast Kansas, says that Delta-8 THC sales more than doubled her business in the short amount of time she’s had it on the shelves. Along with teas, gardening supplies, a small lunch menu, and a variety of homeopathic remedies, Jessi has also been selling Broad-Spectrum CBD and CBD isolate products for over two years. Currently, Kansas is awaiting Governor Kelly’s signature to legalize Full-Spectrum CBD. While that’s a far cry from medicinal cannabis, simply allowing CBD products with a maximum of 0.3% THC would give Jessi access to thousands of additional products. 

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When asked about her CBD customers, she said, “I really thought I would have a certain kind of clientele, but it’s everybody. Everybody can get some kind of benefit. The top things people are looking for relief from are pain, anxiety, and sleep issues. And CBD is amazing for those!” After learning more about terpenes, Jessi was able to create specialized products to help people with more specific issues. However, having to stick with 0.0% THC products has limited the companies she can work with.

Recently, her business more than doubled in the two months she’s had Delta-8 THC on the shelves, “Because I don’t only sell CBD and Delta-8, it gets people in the door and then they realize I offer TONS of other products.” In her small corner of Kansas, people often have to order online or travel to find even simple homeopathic products. That’s one thing Jessi hopes her small business can do for her community, “That’s my very favorite thing. I want to keep as many dollars local as we can.”

Jessi hopes to open a full dispensary if medical cannabis becomes legal. Her goal is to help more people by using whole plant medicine. If she can, she wants to expand her business and she’s optimistic. “Unlike Missouri, Kansas has already been growing hemp for a number of years, so it would just be a matter of changing seeds for a lot of growers. They already have the knowledge and equipment, so that would be awesome.”

While bigger businesses will eventually get their slice of the pie, small Kansas businesses will quickly hop on medical cannabis if they can afford to. Jessi, along with many other small business owners in Kansas, has continued to email Senators and Congressman, “How cool is this! It’s the wild west and we are right there on the frontier. I just think Kansas has a lot to offer, so we should be able to do that.”

Will Kansas Legalize Medical Cannabis?

We’ll have to wait and see. Kansans are eagerly waiting for a vote on the bill, but the House is in no hurry. Many are happy that Kansas, a notoriously conservative state, is even considering legalizing medical cannabis. 

However, when you consider that three of its four border states (Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado) all have some form of legal cannabis, the real question becomes “why haven’t they done this sooner?” Plus, with several other states moving forward with legalization in some form, Kansas can’t afford to miss out on the potential revenue from cannabis sales.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this bill progresses. Feel free to follow us on Instagram for updates and comment to let us know what your thoughts are on Kansas and medical cannabis.

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