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Kansas Legislative Leadership Devoting Two Days of Interim Hearings to Medical Marijuana

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Committees Granted 56 Days to Debate Policy Issues Ahead of 2025 Session

By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector 

 

TOPEKA, Kan. — Republican Sen. Michael Fagg made a compelling case for scheduling joint House and Senate hearings on options for developing medical marijuana legislation in advance of convening the 2025 Kansas Legislature.

The Legislative Coordinating Council, comprised of Republican and Democratic leadership in both chambers, granted Tuesday the Senate Utilities Committee chairman’s request for two days of interim meetings to hash out opportunities for Kansas to join the 14 states that legalized medical consumption of marijuana. Two dozen other states, including Missouri and Colorado, allow recreational consumption of pot.

“Although the Legislature has worked to address medical marijuana, further study is needed,” Fagg said.

He said a conversation about medical marijuana was warranted after announcement in May by the U.S. Department of Justice that it proposed to move cannabis with THC content over 0.3% from designation as a Schedule I drug, viewed as having no medical benefit, to the less-restrictive Schedule III. The result could ease some restrictions on cannabis-related research, promote cannabinoid drug development and alter the legal framework for cannabis growers and distributors.

The change would be the most significant shift in federal drug policy in decades, but it didn’t mean commerce permitted under state law for medical or recreational marijuana would be matched under federal law.

“The special committee would also study the impact of this reclassification,” Fagg said.

In part, the committee would also consider how other states handled medical marijuana access for military veterans and patients suffering end-of-life medical challenges. Another element of the hearings could be the structure of CBD enforcement in Kansas.

 

KanCare and housing

The Legislative Coordinating Council received requests from state legislators for 72 interim committee meeting days, but the council trimmed the list to 56 days of meetings.

One day was approved for work of a special committee tasked with examining potential changes to case management services for Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These services help individuals enrolled in Medicaid find success in their home communities.

Sen. Chase Blasi, R-Wichita, said the administration of Gov. Laura Kelly may alter case management offerings in response to demands of the federal government.

“Numerous concerns have been raised by our constituents regarding the direction the administration appears to be headed on such changes,” Blasi said. “We believe that the Legislature should exercise oversight in order to ensure that this vital service is not disrupted.”

Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, requested six days, but received four days, for work of the Bethel Committee on Home and Community-Based Services for Medicaid recipients. A portion would be devoted to reviewing decisions by the Kelly administration to select three contractors to manage the $4 billion KanCare program serving more than 400,000 elderly, disabled, pregnant and low-income Kansans, she said.

A special House-Senate committee was allowed to meet two days to examine housing availability and affordability and the relationship of those realities to economic development. The panel would produce recommendations for broadening ownership of homes priced under $200,000 in urban and rural areas. Other issues, including availability of rental housing and the status of fixed-income seniors, would be on the agenda.

World Cup, salaries

The joint committee on Kansas security was granted two days of hearings to dive into issues relevant to state employees, buildings and infrastructure.

“Such topics may include security protocols planned for the 2026 World Cup games,” said Sen. Mike Petersen, a Wichita Republican and chair of the Joint Kansas Security Committee.

One day would involve legislative tours of the Joint Forces Headquarters at Forbes Field, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s laboratory, the rebuilt Docking State Office Building and the Kansas State University campus in Salina.

Meanwhile, the Jennings Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee was granted three days to grapple with programs, activities and plans of the Kansas Department of Corrections. The committee proposed to set aside time to study nursery programs for incarcerated mothers and to learn about an program adopted in Nebraska.

The House-Senate committee on child welfare was provided four days for meetings to broaden the Legislature’s understanding of “child maltreatment” and to look at demographic trends influencing the welfare system. That would be combined with reviews of four state agencies engaged in child welfare issues, and the views of law enforcement and the judicial system on the topic.

The appropriations committees of the Senate and House were given permission to devote two days to hearings on a salary study of employees at universities under direction of the Kansas Board of Regents and Washburn University in Topeka.

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