By Tressa McIff
Marijuana has been a hot topic all across the U.S. for years. In some states, it’s fully legal for recreational use, some states allow it for medical use, and in others marijuana is banned completely. In Kansas, it’s not that cut and dry.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a drug made from hemp, a strain of the marijuana plant with lower levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the part of marijuana that makes you high. This CBD is the part of the plant that is currently legal in Kansas.
At the end of April last year, the Kansas Legislature voted to remove CBD without THC from their definition of marijuana, making CBD legal to both sell and possess in Kansas. This has been a very welcome change for many people around Kansas. The laws surrounding CBD used to be very vague and difficult to decipher. Now, citizens feel reassured that they know they can legally use CBD to help their families.
Tammy McCalla is a mother of three living in Olathe. Her son, Eli, suffers from epilepsy and frequent seizures. Three years ago, McCalla discovered CBD oil. The family had heard about a girl in Colorado who, like Eli, suffered from epilepsy. They began following her story and learned that CBD oil helped reduce the frequency and severity of her seizures.
The McCallas decided that it would be worth giving a try for their son. They discussed it with his neurologist, but she couldn’t prescribe CBD oil due to current Kansas law. However, they were able to purchase and try it out on their own, and they quickly noticed a big difference. “He’s been seizure free for the last few years,” McCalla said. “He’s been able to lower his other medications, and he’s just more personable and calmer.”
Despite all of the positive changes they have seen, there are still obstacles McCalla would like to see overcome when it comes to Kansas laws surrounding CBD and medical marijuana. “We would love for his neurologist to be able to prescribe it for him… but at this point, because of how the laws are set, up that’s not a possibility,” McCalla said.
However, McCalla does have hope that doctors will soon be able to prescribe CBD. “I think there’s some changes that are coming about that are making that more possible,” McCalla said.
Right now, one of the most important ways to advance laws and views around medical marijuana and its components is simply by talking about it and becoming informed. “There’s a lot of misconception with it because it is a felony to use marijuana, but there are a lot of benefits to the CBD portion of it,” McCalla said. “There’s a lot of misconceptions with medical marijuana and with the different components of the marijuana plant. It’s important for high school students to understand the legalities of that… and just making sure they’re researching what’s going into their bodies.”
McCalla loves being able to use CBD to help her son, but she believes there could be many more benefits for other families if medical marijuana were to be legalized in Kansas. “There have been some studies looking into children with autism and there’s already a lot of evidence with children with severe epilepsy. I think there’s potentially a lot of benefits for lots of different neurological conditions and disorders,” McCalla said.
Multiple current Kansas politicians agree that there could be numerous benefits to legalizing medical marijuana. New governor Laura Kelly is an open supporter of the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
There are also two bills currently being drafted to legalize medical marijuana. One is more conservative while the other allows for more options. Either way, this would be a large step forward for Kansas and would be faced with a mix of support and opposition from all sides.