kansas residents support marijuana legalization

A majority of residents in Kansas are in favor of legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana for adults, according to a new poll.

More than 63 percent of respondents to the poll said they either “strongly support” or “somewhat support” the state introducing a taxable retail sales market for cannabis, while only 26 percent of those asked said they either “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” the motion. Eleven percent said they were either unsure or neutral.

The cannabis legalization question was put to 352 Kansas residents in phone interviews from August 26 to October 14, 2019, by Fort Hays State University as part of the annual Kansas Speaks survey.

Respondents are queried about their position on a range of public policy issues, including Medicaid expansion and firearms control, as well as their opinions on the quality of life in the state and the performance of politicians.

In spite of clear support for marijuana reform among the electorate, Kansas still has some of the most punitive drug laws in the country. Cannabis is illegal and subject to harsh penalties, even if used for medical purposes.

Yet three of Kansas ́ closest neighbors – Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma – have either fully legalized or introduced a medical marijuana program.

But as the latest poll perhaps indicates, there are signs that the status quo is beginning to shift.

In October, a Kansas legislative special committee took the first tentative steps towards a medical marijuana program in the state. The Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs published a report recommending that lawmakers consider allowing citizens with medical marijuana cards from other states where it is legal to continue using the product while in Kansas.

The special committee also recommended lawmakers look at Ohio’s medical marijuana program as a possible template for Kansas to emulate. In Ohio, patients are limited to a 90-day supply and smokable cannabis is prohibited. The special committee further recommends banning the use of vapes for medical marijuana.

The fact that the recently-elected Gov. Laura Kelly (D) came out in support of medical cannabis also bodes well for pro-reform advocates.

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