TOPEKA, Kan. (May 7, 2021) – On Thursday, the Kansas House passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.

The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee introduced Senate Bill 158 (SB158) in February. The legislation would establish a medical marijuana program in Kansas for qualified patients. The proposed law would authorize medical marijuana for the treatment of about two-dozen conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Under the proposed law, the state would license and regulate medical cannabis growers, testing labs, processors distributors and retailers. Patients would be able to purchase a 90-day supply.

SB158 includes some limits on the program. Smoking and vaping products would still be prohibited and there is no provision in the measure for home cultivation. Counties would have the authority to prohibit medical marijuana businesses from operating within their jurisdictions.

On May 6, the House passed SB158 by a 79-42 vote with amendments. The Senate previously passed the measure 40-0.

Despite the limited nature of the program, enactment of SB158 would take a big step forward, as Kansas Cannabis Business Association CEO Erin Montroy told Marijuana Moment.

“Today, a Republican initiative to legalize medical marijuana was passed by a Republican supermajority in a non-ballot initiative state. This is a watershed moment, the point where everything changes and nothing will ever be the same.”


Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

The legalization of medical marijuana in Kansas would take the first step and remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the state even though federal prohibition remains in effect. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.


Kansas is one of a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition and nullifying it in practice.

Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election and Mississippi legalized medicinal cannabis. Earlier this year, New YorkNew Mexico land Virginia legalized marijuana through legislative action.

With 36 states including allowing cannabis for medical use, and 17 legalizing for adult recreational use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.

The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.


SB158 now goes back to the Senate for concurrence with the House amendments. Marijuana Moment reported, “Advocates are hopeful that the measure will pass the Senate in the coming days during the legislative veto session.” But a local TV station reported the measure likely won’t be taken up by the Senate until next year.


Mike Maharrey

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