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Legal Weed in Kansas?

By Diane Wahto
Opinion | January 8, 2015

Last year, a group from Wichita worked to garner enough signatures on a petition to get the question of legalizing marijuana in Wichita on the November 2014 mid-term election ballot. When Esau Freeman, one of the group's leaders, took the petition to Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, she ruled that not enough of the signatures were valid. This, even though the ballots were counted in secret, so no one really knows for sure that this was the case. However, this is an issue for another blog.

This time Freeman and others made sure they got only the signatures of registered voters who were Wichita residents, a requirement for the issue to go on the ballot.

For years, State Representative Gail Finney has tried to get a medical marijuana through the Kansas legislature. She is one of many Kansans who suffer from a chronic illness, the debilitating effects of which could be alleviated by marijuana. I know from the experience of one of my friends that smoking pot helped take away the sting of chemotherapy and radiation when she was being treated for cancer. Of course, what she was doing was against the law and she well could have ended up in jail if she had been caught. However, it was worth it to her to ease the pain of the treatment.

My brother, a defense attorney, has made the point that often people who get arrested for using marijuana are the sole support of their families. If they serve time in prison, their families then have to go on welfare to get by. How does this make any sense?

I'm not into the drug culture myself. I do know from past experience that an alcoholic who goes into rages after he's been drinking is much more dangerous than a person who smokes a joint now and then. Many artists and writers in the past have used marijuana as a way to unleash their creative sensibilities.

Granted, it's probably not a good idea for children or adolescents to smoke anything, but apparently marijuana has been found to help children who are prone to seizures. Some parents have moved to states where marijuana is now legal in order to help their children.

Speaking of that, apparently since Colorado residents voted to legalize marijuana, their tax revenue has gone through the roof. Governor Sam Brownback needs to take note of that if he really wants the sun to shine in Kansas.

According to research one of my former students did on the weed, marijuana became illegal when wealthy oilmen, worried that Henry Ford would use hemp to power his automobiles, began a propaganda campaign to show the awful effects of marijuana on its users. I've not seen the movie Reefer Madness, but I've seen enough clips to know how ridiculous the scenarios depicted in the movie are. This movie, though, was part of that anti-marijuana propaganda effort.

This, despite the fact that hemp is useful in many ways, not just as fuel. It can be made into fabric and paper, among other commodities. If Kansas farmers could grow it, they would reap the monetary benefits.

"I would like to remind the legislators that the people who pay taxes in this state are over the age of 21. We are not their subjects. We are actually their employers. And when we call them and say we would like a lot of change, we expect them to act in that manner rather than say they are not going to do something or give us something. The power is in the hands of the people."
My grandmother had a canary that sang all day as it sat in its cage in the sun. I found out later that the seeds my grandmother gave her canary contained marijuana. I now know why the caged bird sings.

I say vote yes when this issue of marijuana comes on the ballot in the spring. Who knows? Maybe your vote could start a movement across the state and pretty soon we could see some sensible laws governing this innocuous weed. Maybe sick people could find a way to ease their pain and the sick economy of Kansas could recover.


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