Kansas senator refuses to address hearing for medical marijuana bill


UP IN SMOKE: State Sen. David Haley, who authored legislation to establish medical marijuana regulations in Kansas, says the bill has been intentionally blocked by Senate President Susan Wagle and Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, chair of the Senate’s Public Health and Welfare Committee.

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — After blockading medical marijuana legislation last year, Kansas state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook said she was bombarded through social media with obscene comments and hardcore pornography.

This year, her solution is to not talk about it at all.

Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, succinctly declined comment after Kansas Watchdog asked if she planned to allow SB 09 a hearing anytime in the foreseeable future. Dubbed the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act, the bill — submitted in January 2013 by state Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City — would establish rules and regulations for medical marijuana in Kansas.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee

The legislation was referred to the Senate‘s Committee on Public Health and Welfare, chaired by Pilcher-Cook, and has since sat untouched, gathering dust.

Haley said Pilcher-Cook and Senate President Susan Wagle have intentionally suppressed the issue.

“This is a discussion of national prominence now, and to put your head in the sand or put your hands over your ears and say ‘I just don’t want to hear it’ really smacks of a certain level of inability to learn that’s troubling,” Haley told Kansas Watchdog. “It troubles me to think that there are people in elected office like that.”

A similar bill has languished equally long before the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs. Chair Rep. Steve Bunk, R-Wichita, did not respond to calls for comment regarding whether he plans to permit the bill a public hearing.

While Pilcher-Cook has opted to give medical marijuana the silent treatment during the current legislative session, last January she painted the issue as a matter of priorities.

“I don’t think the Legislature would be for it. We have a very limited session. You have to look at the opportunity costs,” Pilcher-Cook told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City

Haley said at a cost of roughly $600 per meeting, Pilcher-Cook should stop wasting valuable committee time viewing live sonograms, considering a surrogacy ban or hosting other hearings “that don’t mean anything to anybody except two or three people.”

A poll by Wichita TV station KWCH in January 2013 revealed 70 percent of Kansans would favor establishing and regulating medical marijuana.

“How can anyone exist in a vacuum when the national debate is clear as to where Kansas stands on it?” Haley said.

“We’re dealing with people who don’t desire to be educated on issues, and that’s not the kind of leadership I give my district, and I’m sad to see the leadership we have is so closed-minded,” he added.

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on Twitter at @muckraker62. Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!

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