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SPOTLIGHT
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Dreamin' of a Kansas marijuana debate

Published on -2/5/2013, 12:23 PM

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Maybe us old-timers who hang around the Statehouse are remembering our youth -- back when 8-track tape players were cutting-edge and there was nothing in the clouds except rain -- that this medical marijuana bill in the House is such fascinating reading.

There are lots of important bills in the Legislature, but for those of you who remember the Mamas & Papas, the Kansas House Committee on Vision 2020's Cannabis Compassion and Care Act brings back memories.

There is a genuine health-care purpose for the bill. Cannabis can be a real and legitimate palliative for those with serious medical conditions that cause unrelenting pain and discomfort. Fifteen states have removed state-level criminal penalties for the medical use and cultivation of cannabis. And, the bill nobly notes, "Under this bill, Kansas joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens."

The bill notes that 99 percent of marijuana arrests are made under state law and just 1 percent under federal law.

Could this be a state's rights issue? We're guessing it will probably draw a little different crowd for rallies than that other states' rights issue -- gun ownership -- but it's out there.

There is much specific language and definition in the bill. It describes, for example, "compassion centers" where patients with a prescription-type document from a doctor can pick up their medicinal marijuana, a maximum of 6 ounces a month. The bill -- for those of you who remember hearing others' complaints -- specifically exempts seeds and stems from that 6-ounce a month prescription.

Oh, there are important details in the measure, including a registry identification card (yes, an out-of-state medical marijuana card will be honored) and strict background checks on compassion center employees. Interestingly, those compassion center background checks must be completed in 10 days, while state law allows 90 days to complete the background checks on applicants for a concealed-carry permit.

No compassionate care centers can be located within 500 feet of the property line of any existing public or private school and local governments can limit the number of compassion centers -- we're guessing one fewer than the number of payday loan shops.

It's easy to poke fun at the bill, but it includes a very serious list of medical conditions for which a doctor can prescribe medical marijuana. It includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDs, sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, migraine, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, severe pain, seizures, epilepsy, muscle spasm, and any other medical conditions approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

And, expect that while there are Kansans with very serious medical conditions which would be alleviated by a little medical marijuana, there are also Kansans who might be able to talk a doctor into a prescription.

Medical care -- and better baggies than were available in the '60s -- have come a long way.

But, it's a bill just introduced, so don't start digging around for that tape with "California Dreamin' " on it just yet.

Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report. To learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit www.hawvernews.com.

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