Medical marijuana a topic of discussion at the Capitol

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Should Kansas join 33 other states, plus Washington D.C., in legalizing medical marijuana? That was the focus of the debate for the Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs.

More than 20 people testified before the committee, with dozens more submitting written testimony, on why they believe medical marijuana should or should not be legalized in Kansas.

One of the people in favor of legalization was Jim Ricketts.

Life changed for Jim in 1975. In his testimony, he said he was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Jim had surgery to put rods down his spine. After the rods were removed, Jim relearned to walk in physical therapy. After multiple surgeries and complications, Jim says he lives with constant pain.

“When I got out of the hospital, I had more pills than you can imagine and I took them like they was candy,” explains Jim, a life-long Kansas resident.

Jim says he became addicted to his pain medicine and would drink 18 to 20 beers every night. His doctor urged him to quit.

“My doctor told me I needed to get off it or later on in my life, nothing was going to work to help me,” said Jim. “I tried marijuana. I was told by some people to try it. I tried it and I went to work, I got off of my social security.”

Jim said marijuana is the only thing that has brought him some relief. He told the committee he is able to sleep at night.

But others argue the legalization of medical marijuana will only bring larger problems.

“It’s already affecting us,” said Jeff Easter, Sheriff of Sedgwick County. “Some of the cases we’re working on…the big cases has to do with the vaping, which is 90 percent THC. We’re finding it all through the high schools, we’re finding it everywhere, and it’s all black market stuff that’s come in to Kansas.”

Sheriff Easter is also the Legislative Chair for the Kansas Sheriff’s Association. Easter said he wouldn’t support legalizing marijuana until the FDA approves its use.

“I’m very selfish about the community I come from and I don’t want to see some of the things that have gone on in the other states take place here,” Sheriff Easter added.

Committee Chairman, Rep. John Barker, said he wants to give time to the other committee members to go over the written testimonies. The committee will reconvene next Wednesday to decide whether to draft a bill.

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