TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — Just minutes before Thursday’s Senate Federal and States Affairs Committee meeting concluded, Sen. Alicia Straub, R-Ellinwood, made a substitute motion was made to table Senate Bill 135, which would have effectively legalized medical marijuana in Kansas.
Sen. Straub said during the meeting the bill’s complexity made it too much to tackle in one week. Several opponents of the bill, including Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, echoed those sentiments during the meeting.
“Our associations are opposed to the passage of SB 135,” Sheriff Easter said.
Sheriff Easter represented three law enforcement organizations: the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association, the Kansas Association of the Chiefs of Police, and the Kansas Peace Officers Association. During his testimony, Sheriff Easter said the state of Kansas cannot go down the path of neighboring states when it comes to medical marijuana.
“It is also clear that no other state going down this path has found the right balance needed to create taxes to properly fund enforcement and programs, including rehabilitation services,” Sheriff Easter said.
Another concern the sheriff addressed to the committee: How legalizing medical marijuana could impact safety on the roads.
“How much is too high?” Sheriff Easter asked the committee. “We know what the rate is for DUI: it’s over .08—we don’t know what that is for marijuana.”
Both democrats on the committee voted against the move to table SB 135. Thursday’s decision means no further discussion or action will be taken for the rest of the year unless lawmakers in that committee decided to revisit the issue.
However, proponents of SB 135, like Lee Bretz of Great Bend, said Thursday’s decision is only delaying the inevitable.
“It’s gonna happen, you know, in a matter of time,” Bretz said. “I just don’t know why they keep delaying it.”
KSN News spoke with Bretz in December 2022 after his father (who suffered from inoperable cancer) was issued a ticket by officers from the Hays Police Department in his hospital room for using THC-infused products. He passed away a few weeks later.
“It could have helped him out tremendously, and I wouldn’t have had to see him suffer for as long as I did,” Bretz said.
As for the City of Wichita, marijuana possession has been decriminalized as of September 2022.
In a statement to KSN News, WPD Chief Joe Sullivan says: “If and when medical marijuana legislation is passed, I will review the specific wording of the bill with my executive staff and our legal team and then make the necessary changes to our policy and training.”