Medical marijuana supporters rally at Kansas Statehouse - KCTV5

Medical marijuana supporters rally at Kansas Statehouse

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Supporters of medical marijuana in Kansas joined two Democratic state lawmakers at a Statehouse rally in favor of a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use.

About 50 people attended the rally Thursday.

Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, and Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, filed medical marijuana bills prior to the start of this year's legislative session. Similar measures have been filed since 2009, but none of them have made it to the discussion stage in committee.

Haley has been a key backer of the efforts in recent years, and he attended the rally. He thanked supporters for advocating on behalf of the measure.

Supporters say medical marijuana provides relief to those suffering from debilitating illnesses.

"It's the only thing that I have found that makes my pain tolerable," said Brian Evans, of Bleeding Kansas, who has battled multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. "It's not just a Brian story. It's an everybody story."

Opponents say marijuana is addictive and leads to crime.

With Colorado legalizing marijuana, it has made the issue more pressing in Kansas where residents cross the state line regularly to purchase marijuana. Supporters also say legalizing marijuana provides a tax windfall for states.

In Kansas, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee plans informational hearings next week, and some Republican lawmakers say they are willing to keep an open mind on the issue.

"We are taking the baby step of having informational hearings," Haley said, adding that he aims to educate his colleagues more about the issue.

During his re-election campaign last year, Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, said he opposes legalizing marijuana in any form.

In addition to Thursday's rally, several medical cannabis groups were lobbying state lawmakers on behalf of patients and caregivers throughout the day. The plan is to hold regular rallies.

More than 20 states across the U.S. have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

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