Pubdate: Tue, 16 Feb 2010
Source: University Daily Kansan, The (Lawrence, KS Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The University Daily Kansan
Note: Accepts letters to the editor only from students, faculty, 
staff and members of the Lawrence community
Author: Robert Altman
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


While state legislators were working this month to outlaw synthetic 
forms of marijuana such as K2, a new House bill sprouted that 
proposes the real thing be made available in Kansas.

Gail Finney, a Wichita House Democrat who serves on the House Health 
and Human Services Committee, introduced bill 2610 this month. It 
calls for the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes.

While the bill closely resembles those of the 14 states that already 
allow the use of cannabis for medical reasons, Kansas likely has a 
long way to go before actually passing the bill.

"This is definitely a marathon not a sprint," Finney said.

Finney's bill makes Kansas one of the 13 states that now have pending 
legislation to legalize medical marijuana.

"I at least want to open up the door for discussion," she said.

Part of Finney's reason for writing the bill comes from her empathy 
with the chronically ill, she said. Finney suffers from Lupus and 
said she has experienced unwanted side effects from medications. She 
decided to take action after receiving numerous positive testimonies 
from people who have used cannabis as an alternative.

According to Pain Management of America's website, doctors typically 
prescribe marijuana to treat chronic pain, nausea, glaucoma, seizure 
disorders, cancer, diabetes, muscle spasms and other ailments.

"There are so many people that are suffering with chronic illnesses, 
and I just don't believe they should be criminalized for trying to 
make themselves feel better," Finney said.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director for the National Organization 
for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws, said this type of legislation 
typically becomes less controversial after the facts have been debated openly.

"This is the first one out, which means it's probably not going to go 
too far," he said. "The second time out it probably should pass but 
won't because the body politic will really dig their heels in and 
commit a lot of time and energy to oppose the truth. And by the third 
time it comes out the opponents really don't have much of an argument anymore."

He said although Kansas was historically a very socially conservative 
and anti-drug state, college towns such as Lawrence have always been 
breeding grounds for social change.

"Lawrence is by far the hotbed of progressivity, and from my point of 
view, real rational thought, but it has to run up against the rest of 
the state," St. Pierre said.

Gina Burrows, president of the Young Democrats of KU, said she has 
been to meetings with the Kansas Progressive Caucus and found wide 
hesitance among the group to support such an initiative.

"We were definitely having a problem getting any members of the 
legislature to introduce their support for such a bill, which 
unfortunately I think has more to do with their re-election chances 
than necessarily how they always feel," she said.

Burrows said that often the problem was not having a unified citizen 
voice to encourage legislators to support controversial initiatives.

"Most of the progressive community in Kansas feels like such a 
minority that they don't tend to be vocal," she said. "I really think 
they'd find that they are less of a minority if willing to ban 
together and assert to their legislators that there is a larger than 
expected population that would be on board."

If the bill were to pass, it would allow "compassion centers" to 
dispense Kansas-grown cannabis to qualifying patients.

Finney said there was an opportunity for state revenue from the 
centers' licensing and fees and the possibility of taxing the product.

"It could create jobs, it could create business, it could create an 
industry for Kansas," she said.

While support among the legislatures for the bill is low, Finney said 
"quite a few" members have told her they support the initiative, but 
aren't able to publicly endorse it for various reasons.



1. Alabama

2. Delaware

3. Illinois

4. Iowa

5. Kansas

6. Maryland

7. Massachusetts

8. Missouri

9. New York

10. North Carolina

11. Pennsylvania

12. Tennessee

13. Wisconsin


    1. Alaska

    2. California

    3. Colorado

    4. Hawaii

    5. Maine

    6. Michigan

    7. Montana

    8. Nevada

    9. New Jersey

   10. New Mexico

   11. Oregon

   12. Rhode Island

   13. Vermont

   14. Washington
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake