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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Many states are loosening marijuana laws—but not in Kansas


Wichita Peace and Freedom Party Examiner;

Legalizing marijuana was my first passionate political issues when I was in high school. I used to know a lot of people who were smoking marijuana and we never thought it was that bad. It seemed less powerful and less dangerous than alcohol. There were a lot of us who wanted to change the laws and make it legal to smoke.
But over the decades, lawmakers got more conservative and, marijuana never got legal. Over the last two decade, lawmakers have gotten tougher on marijuana.
So it was no surprise that Kansas Republican conservatives killed an attempt to introduce a bill to allow permission for qualified patients to consume marijuana with a physician's order.
The bill was introduced by Sen. David Haley, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan.
Just as quickly as he introduced the bill, Republicans tried to kill it. Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, the Republican chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, told The Wichita Eagle she intends to block the measure from getting a hearing during the 2013 session.
If passed, Kansas would have joined 18 states and the District of Columbia that have mademedical marijuana legal. Just in the last election, people in two states, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the recreation use of the drug.
If the bill had passed in Kansas qualified patients would have been allowed to consume marijuana with a physician's order. The changes would also allow patients to have up to six ounces of marijuana and grow up to a dozen plants at home.
Present Kansas marijuana laws are quite strict. Anyone who illegally obtains marijuana to treat a health condition can be sent to jail for one year and fined $2,500 for a first-offense possession conviction. Further convictions can mean up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Personal cultivation of a marijuana plant is a felony. It carries a maximum penalty of up to 17 years in prison.
“I originally thought that by the time I was 35, marijuana would finally be legal and all the propaganda against it would become a thing of the past.
That’s not what happened. The National Organization for Marijuana Reform, or NORML was winning the right to possess marijuana without penalties across the country by 1980. Then came the President Ronald Reagan era and everything was stood on its head. Everything us 1960s and 1970s youth had hoped for were the antithesis of the Reagan Regime. Marijuana, along with every other issue we believed in got turned upside down.
Nancy Reagan led a “war on drugs.” Suddenly buying small amounts of marijuana was associated with big time drug dealers and drug cartel violence. Parents groups formed to push for tougher marijuana laws.
So as I passed the age of 35 in a country I could not imagine from my days in high school. Now years later, for the first time in my life, I have seen marijuana laws voted down in two states, Colorado and Washington. I was really surprised those legalization moves were passed by voters.”
Of Course such changes are not taking place in Kansas. This is a state that keeps electing ultra-conservative Republicans to office who want to take the country back to the way it was in the first few decades of the 20th century. Our Governor Sam Brownback and all his flunkies who have taken over the Kansas legislature are doing everything they can to move Kansas backward. So for the immediate future, we aren’t likely to see any positive changes on marijuana laws here in Kansas. Kansas makes too much money sending convicted marijuana users to court and putting them through expensive rehab programs over a drug that isn’t that dangerous.

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