Some in Kansas point to marijuana to help compensate for budget shortfall

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TOPEKA, Ks. — Kansas is expecting to face a $653 million budget shortfall in the coming years.

Our Capitol Bureau Reporter, Korinne Griffith, explains why some are pointing to marijuana as a fix.

The end of the legislative session means the end of another push to legalize marijuana in Kansas.

But some are saying the state needs it now more than ever.

According to the Kansas Division of Budget, the state is projected to collect $1.3 billion less than expected in taxes over the next two fiscal years.

And proponents of legalizing medical marijuana in the state say marijuana sales tax revenue could help.

J. Andrew Ericson Sr., Kansas Cannabis Business Association, said, “With a budget that’s just absolutely destroyed in the state of Kansas, it would be something that would very much help with multiple different things.”

Bordering states, such as Missouri and Oklahoma, have legalized medical marijuana.

According to the Oklahoma state government, the state brought in more than $39 million in medical marijuana revenue so far in June.

Advocates with the Kansas Cannabis Business Association project that Kansas could bring in approximately $200 million in tax revenue over 5 years.

But opponents say, legalization comes with a heavy cost.

Dr. Eric Voth, Addiction and Pain Medicine Specialist, said, “Increased adolescent addiction, increase opiate use, increased opiate overdoses. So there’s a lot that follows along and so then you get into the social costs.”

Dr. Eric Voth also argues that there are THC and CBD medications available to treat pain that have been FDA approved — while medical marijuana is not.

Governor Kelly told me at the beginning of the legislative session in January, that she would support a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas.

No bill made it to her desk this year.

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