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Kansas Gov. Kelly warns against politics in classrooms, renews calls for medical marijuana

Jonathan Shorman and Katie Bernard, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

The speech, delivered to a packed House chamber full of lawmakers, state officials and special guests, was anticlimactic in some respects. Typically, the State of the State allows the governor the chance to offer a preview of her agenda ahead of the release of a budget proposal that details exactly how the governor wants those goals funded.

But with Kelly’s budget already released two weeks ago, Republicans have been skeptical of some of her goals. Few issues will test Kelly’s ability to negotiate with Republicans as much as medical marijuana.

Legalization has stalled since the House passed a bill to legalize the drug in 2021. Masterson has repeatedly said it isn’t a priority in the Senate and that he wants to see more research before he is comfortable moving forward.

House Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, said he’s leaving the issue to the Senate this year. Some supporters are hopeful a breakthrough will occur, despite Masterson’s hesitation.

“I think there may be some movement over there. There are some encouraging signs,” said House Minority Leader Vic Miller, a Topeka Democrat.

Kansas is surrounded on three sides by states that have legalized the drug, including Missouri whose voters just approved a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational use.

 

Kelly referenced a case in Hays, when police raided the hospital room of a terminally ill man using marijuana products to ease his pain.

“We all know that was ridiculous,” Kelly said. “This is not to blame the police – the police were just enforcing the law. That means the law itself is ridiculous.”

After the speech, Masterson said his position had not changed. He called the Hays case an “interesting example” because “she’s trying to get marijuana to a guy that couldn’t breathe.”

“There is a role for potential palliative care, there’s gonna be bills, there’s gonna be hearings. I’m not going to be shamed in to doing it from some bad examples,” he said.

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