**Media Advisory**

WEDNESDAY: Medical Marijuana Day of Action calls on Kansas legislature to legalize medicinal marijuana

ACLU of Kansas, Kansas Black Leadership Council, Kansas Cannabis Coalition, Loud Light, New Frontiers, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2 to uplift Kansans’ need for prompt legalization of medicinal marijuana

Esmie Tseng, ACLU of Kansas, [email protected] 

A collective of organizations across the state will hold a Medical Marijuana Day of Action at the Kansas State Capitol calling on the lawmakers to act swiftly to legalize medical marijuana this session.

All interested press, legislators, and legislative staff are invited.

Kansans will share their perspectives of how the state’s restriction of their ability to access the best available treatment negatively impacts their quality of life and exacerbates their suffering from chronic illness. Many sick people cannot legally access the medicine that they and their medical providers have determined works best for them, and impacted Kansans will discuss how the government has become the obstacle to care for seriously ill people, including veterans with PTSD or cancer patients who find marijuana is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering without debilitating side effects.

Other speakers, including Sharon Brett, Legal Director for the ACLU of Kansas, and Barry Grissom, former United States Attorney for the District of Kansas, will discuss how Kansas laws restrict opportunities for small business owners; how the wide net cast by criminalization has impacted those with genuine medical needs; and how criminalization of medical marijuana contributes to unconstitutional outcomes, including racial disparities in both policing and prosecution.

  • Kansas remains one of just three states with no legal level for cannabis, even for medical patients. Currently, many Kansans face criminal penalties for pursuing the medical care they need as determined by their medical providers and their own experiences. Nationally and statewide, public opinion on marijuana has shifted away from the misinformation and fearmongering of the War on Drugs era and further toward acceptance of its use. A 2021 Gallup poll found that more than two in three Americans (68%) support legalizing marijuana, including majorities of Democrats (83%), independents (71%), and Republicans (50%). (“Support for Legal Marijuana Holds at Record High of 68%,” 2021).
  • Kansas’s restrictions on medical marijuana received national and worldwide attention last December, when Hays police entered the room of a terminally-ill Kansas man in the final stages of inoperable cancer after a hospital staffer reported his use of a vape pen and THC paste to ease his symptoms. While the misdemeanor ticket was dismissed quickly, the incident reignited a discussion of what law enforcement involvement would have been, if any, under more compassionate state and city medical marijuana laws.
  • Marijuana law is a racial justice problem – especially in Kansas. Criminalization has disproportionately impacted Black Kansans, ranking 12th in the nation for the largest racial disparities in arrest rates for marijuana possession in 2018 (“A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform,” 2020). Similarly, Black people in Kansas were 4.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person in 2018.
  • Equitable legalization, regulation, and taxation could provide millions of dollars of revenue. By encouraging a responsible and sustainable marijuana industry, Kansas could raise millions of dollars of revenue for essential services like roads, schools, and safety – while creating new opportunities for farmers and for Kansans from all backgrounds.

Wednesday, February 22, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m

South Wing of the first floor of the Kansas State Capitol Building at SW 8TH VAN BUREN SW, Topeka, KS 66612.

# # #

About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.