The governor of Kansas said she would “probably” sign off on an adult-use marijuana legalization bill if it came her way.
As part of two TV interviews outlining her legislative priorities for 2020, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) made clear that her personal focus is on passing medical marijuana legislation, but that she would not stand in the way of an adult-use bill.
“I haven’t really decided what I would do. This is something where what the people want is probably more what I will want on something like that,” Kelly told Melissa Brunner of WIBW.
“I don’t have a personal ideology regarding it. If the folks want it and the legislature passes it, would I sign it? Probably.”
Gov. Kelly ran her 2018 election campaign on a platform advocating expanded Medicaid and a pragmatic commitment to medical cannabis legalization. She believes both are necessary to combat Kansas’ opioid crisis and support families with children who have debilitating conditions.
“I have always said that I want it [medical cannabis] well-regulated so that it’s controlled so that it’s not the first step to legalization of marijuana,” the governor said. “I don’t want that. I want it to be seen as a pharmaceutical and controlled as we do that.”
“I do believe that medical marijuana needs to be legalized,” she added. “It does have medical uses, and I think it would do a lot for our families who have these kids with Dravet syndrome, which is that severe, frequent epileptic seizures, and I also think that it would help with the opioid crisis.”
Several medical cannabis bills were submitted to the state legislature in 2019 but they all floundered, even though three of Kansas’ four neighboring states – Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma – have legalized medical cannabis, and 68 percent of Kansans support the measure.
“I’m fully aware of the desire that people have for the legalization of medical marijuana,” Kelly said in her interview with KSNT. “I support it and I hope the legislature deals with it.”
But while Kelly’s support for medical cannabis is clear, these recent interviews are the first time she has indicated she would also approve adult-use legislation. She cautiously states, however, that she does not think Kansas residents are “ready to go there” with such a measure.
The most recent Kansas Speaks survey, taken annually and published just last month, would indicate otherwise though. They found that 63 percent of Kansans would approve of adult-use marijuana legalization – a strong show of support in line with trends nationwide. Seemingly then, the only stumbling block for comprehensive marijuana reform is the state legislature.
Even with the governor stepping aside, the prospect of adult-use legalization in the upcoming legislative session isn’t promising. But some form of medical cannabis reform appears likely. A special legislative commission convened last year recently issued their recommendations. They called for establishing a limited medical cannabis program for qualifying patients to access medicines that can’t be smoked or vaped. The report also recommended legal protections for out-of-state patients.