Kansas medical marijuana bills may be reintroduced in 2016

Kansas has harsh laws pertaining to marijuana use of any kind. Medical marijuana advocates may find new hope this upcoming legislative session.

In many states across the nation, laws have changed allowing citizens to use marijuana either for medicinal or recreational use. Medical marijuana proponents have their work cut out for them in states like Kansas, where the drug is still heavily penalized even in small doses. At the very least, marijuana rights advocates hope to decriminalize the drug in states that put recreational marijuana users in the same category as people who do hard drugs or commit serious crimes. In Kansas, the possession or distribution of a small amount of marijuana can result in a person receiving a felony conviction, even if he or she had no other criminal record.

Majority of Kansans support medical marijuana

The Marijuana Policy Project reported that during 2015's legislative session, Kansas politicians who advocated compassionate laws regarding medical marijuana backed bills that would introduce an organized system for regulating medical marijuana in the state. The bills would have allowed those approved for a medical registry card to have access to small amounts of marijuana to treat or manage their medical conditions. However, the bills died in session, despite 70 percent of voters in the state supporting the use of medical marijuana.

Marijuana penalties in Kansas

Kansas laws regarding marijuana use are some of the strictest in the country. The possession of any amount of the drug may result in serious marijuana charges, including the following:

• Up to one year in jail

• A fine of $1,000

• A felony charge for a second conviction

• A $100,000 fine and up to three and a half years in prison for a subsequent conviction

According to the Garden City Telegram, a new medical marijuana bill may be introduced in the 2016 legislative session. If passed, Kansans holding a medical registry card would be allowed up to six ounces of marijuana or 12 cannabis plants without penalty, under certain conditions such as not driving while intoxicated. Proponents of the bill say that marijuana DUI laws are a difficult subject, since THC (the intoxicating chemical in marijuana) can be detected in a person's system up to 30 days after its effects wear off, possibly leading to a false DUI.

If the bill is passed, it would not come too soon for one Kansas marijuana activist. The Washington Post reported that the woman had her home searched and her 11-year-old son taken by child protective services, after the boy had spoken out about the benefits of medical marijuana during a drug education program at school. The woman said she successfully managed her Crohn's disease with cannabis oil. Two ounces of the oil was reportedly found in her home during the search.

Lawmakers in Kansas and other states may still have a long way to go before reaching some kind of agreement as to how to handle medical and recreational marijuana use. It is important for those accused of drug crimes to contact a criminal defense attorney to protect their rights.