The Garden City Telegram

Pain aid — Kansas needs to acknowledge benefit of medicinal marijuana

Plenty of people are traveling from Kansas and other nearby states to take advantage of Colorado's legal marijuana sales.

While many are recreational pot users, there are those who head to Colorado for a much more important reason: buying marijuana for medical use.

Some do so to help children suffering from epilepsy and other neurological disorders. A number of health professionals, buoyed by new research and positive results, say medical marijuana, specifically an oil extract called Charlotte's Web, can help those children.

Yet many policymakers in other states — Kansas included — still resist legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, bogged down by the fear of it becoming a gateway to recreational pot use.

Unfortunately, their thinking overlooks the potential benefit of marijuana easing the pain and suffering of patients with serious ailments ranging from epilepsy to cancer.

Some who resist legalizing medicinal marijuana note the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cites "a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision." And, federal drug policy still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no accepted medical use.

But at the same time, marijuana has been recognized by many doctors as an effective treatment for nausea and pain of terminal patients and others who are seriously ill.

Proposed legislation that would allow medicinal marijuana has been floated in Kansas, but another session has come and gone with nothing on that front — even as a growing number of Kansans favor such a move.

For example, last year the Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature — a senior-citizen advisory group — pitched a plan to allow people to use marijuana if they have certain medical conditions and a physician's recommendation.

Unfortunately, an ultraconservative GOP-dominated Kansas Legislature would rather pursue the kind of mean-spirited policies that only promise to harm children and adults by limiting their access to health care, among other painful legislative pursuits.

Knowing as much, it's really no surprise that some Kansas lawmakers would rather focus on what they perceive as negatives with medicinal marijuana, and dismiss any potential good — and all at the cost of ailing people the plant could help.