“Support safe medicine,” the signs said. “We would like safe access to medical marijuana,” Esau Freeman shouted.
“Oh I’m very upset,” Freeman said. “I feel like these legislators are being obstructionists, they’re dragging their feet,” he said.
Freeman, a member of MedCanKan.org, was just one of about 20 activists in a small, but passionate crowd gathered at 914 SW Harrison Street to support legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.
The rally was organized by the Kannabis Project, a political action committee “to reform cannabis laws in Kansas” – just ahead of an hearing on the issue inside the Docking State Office Building.
The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act, or HB 2330 received an informational hearing Tuesday in the House Health and Human Services Committee – after it languished in the House for a year.
Time, organizers say, could mean life or death for a patient.
“My mother developed terrible psoriasis and arthritis, and I encouraged her to use it,” he said, referring to cannabis . “And she felt like the law was the law, and she didn’t use it and she was prescribed FDA-approved drugs – which actually killed her,” he said.
HB 2330, introduced by Rep. Gayle Finney of Wichita, would legalize marijuana use for patients with certain debilitating medical conditions, served by designated care centers.
Advocates say cannabis reduces pain, moderates nausea and increases appetite among people suffering from cancer, aids, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis c and other maladies.
But the measure has made little headway since Finney introduced it last year.
Committee chairwoman Brenda Landwehr had walked out of a hearing on a similar bill two years ago.
“We’d like for [the committee] to actually have a real hearing, listen to this honest and fair debate about it, have a discussion about it. And then get this bill out of the committee and move it to the floor,” she said.
Opponents of medical marijuana say that’s the wrong place to decide on a medical issue.
“Marijuana is not a medicine,” Dr. Eric Voth, an addiction specialist at Stormont-Vail Healthcare, said. “It’s very impure, it’s very unreliable. And to vote to make something a medicine, bypasses the FDA and it creates something by popular vote,” he said.
“And that is a very serious thing we should not embrace.” Voth also serves as chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy.
Freeman says that though medical marijuana doesn’t cure, his mother would have avoided the drug that killed her.
“I think that if she hadn’t taken that risk with an FDA-approved medicine, she’d still be here today to play with my daughter,” he said.