Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) delivered her State of the State address on Tuesday in which she shared her plans for the year. Among the most outstanding included a warning to the Republican-controlled Legislature that she will not support “irresponsible tax proposals” or education changes that would pit parents against teachers.
And she called for the legalization of medical marijuana.
“There’s another common-sense way to improve health care here in Kansas – and that’s to finally legalize medical marijuana,” Kelly said.
She highlighted that across 39 other states, Americans suffering from various disorders, like PTSD, chronic pain and seizures have legal access to medical marijuana, and that the majority of doctors support allowing it for pain management and palliative care.
Current Cannabis Law Is ‘Ridiculous’
Kelly then mentioned a sad story, when police raided a dying man’s hospital room for cannabis extracts. A 69-year-old patient, Greg Bretz, at the Hays Medical Center was in the final stages of terminal and inoperable cancer was facing arrest for possessing a vaping device and edible THC paste.
At the time Bretz told The Kansas City Star’s Dion Lefler in a phone call that he was “flat on my back” in his hospital bed. The THC paste and vaping device seized by police officers helped Bretz alleviate his symptoms after the doctor advised him to “do whatever he wants if it makes him feel better.”
Kelly said that the order for Bretz to appear in court with him not being able to get out of bed was “ridiculous.” Nevertheless, the police were just doing their job – enforcing the law, she said, adding “that means the law itself is ridiculous.”
Unfortunately, Greg Bretz died about two weeks ago. His passing reminded Kelly of an op-ed published in Wichita Eagle in May by a U.S. army veteran with cancer who was begging the Kansas Senate to legalize medical marijuana as he was “running out of time.” The veteran, David Auble, described himself as conservative and said he doesn’t want to buy medical marijuana illegally. “I don’t intend to break the law even though my situation is growing more severe. That’s not who I am.”
He also wrote about his condition. “I’m running out of time…I can barely lift my head; my legs are tingly and I have a trachea breathing tube. You have no idea how terrifying it is when you can’t move air in or out.”
Auble also passed away several weeks after the op-ed was published, “never having received the relief he needed and so fiercely advocated for,” said Gov. Kelly.
“Every day, thousands of Kansans are forced to choose between breaking the law and living without pain. It is an unbearable choice – and an absolutely unnecessary one,” the governor continued. “Let’s do better in Dave’s honor. In honor of the kids experiencing multiple seizures per day…In honor of veterans suffering from PTSD. Let’s make Kansans’ lives better, and let’s do it right now.”
Kelly further acknowledged that legalizing medical marijuana is going to be complex, but if 39 states have already figured out how to do it, so can Kansas.
GOP Senate President Claims ‘Bad Examples’
Following Gov. Kelly’s speech, Senate president Ty Masterson (R) responded at a press conference saying the governor offered “bad examples,” of people in need of cannabis. According to Masterson, Kelly was “trying to get marijuana to a guy who couldn’t breathe,” reported the Wichita Eagle. As the outlet pointed out, when the police raided Bretz’s room, he was still breathing, was not on oxygen and consumed his THC paste on bread.
Nevertheless, Masterson was clear about his stance. “There is a role for potential palliative care, there’s gonna be bills, there’s gonna be hearings,” he said. “I’m not going to be shamed into doing it from some bad examples.”
Photo: Courtesy of mark reinsten on Shutterstock