Kansas Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana; Big Step to Stop Federal Prohibition in Practice

TOPEKA, Kan. (Feb. 15, 2016) - A Kansas bill would legalize marijuana for medical use in the state, the first big step to thwart the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the plant.

 

The Committee on Health and Human Services introduced House Bill 2691 (HB2691) on Feb. 12. The legislation cites the 10th Amendment to provide for the legal use of cannabis for treatment of medical conditions.

It reads, in part:

The legislature of the state of Kansas declares that the Kansas safe access act is enacted pursuant to the police power of the state to protect the health of its citizens that is reserved to the state of Kansas and its people under the 10th amendment to the constitution of the United States [emphasis added]

The bill provides for the registration and operation of “compassion centers” (dispensaries), authorizes the issuance of identification cards, establishes a compassion board, and provides for administration of the act by the department of health and environment.

Specific language in HB2691 spells out the intent of the act: “to allow for the regulated cultivation, processing, manufacture, delivery, distribution and possession of cannabis” for medicinal purposes.

The federal government claims to maintain absolute prohibition of marijuana, but as one of the bill’s findings points out, the actual impact of federal policy on individuals is minimal. State legalization removes virtually all risk of arrest.

“Data from the federal bureau of investigation’s uniform crime reports and the compendium of federal justice statistics show that approximately 99 out of every 100 cannabis arrests in the United States are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill patients who have a medical need to use cannabis.”

Despite federal marijuana prohibition, measures such as HB2691 remain perfectly constitutional, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

Passage HB2691 would partially remove one layer of law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in Kansas, but federal prohibition would remain in place.

Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana 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.

By easing the state laws, the Kansas legislature would remove some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests, as the findings in the bill make clear.

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 does not include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

If the Kansas legislature passes HB2691, the it would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and 23 states now allow cannabis for medical use. With nearly half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically blocking the ban.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. 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,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

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HB2691 must pass through the committee process before moving on to the full House for further consideration.