A Thousand Voices: Readers support bill reforming hemp, marijuana laws

Rep. John Wilson, D-Lawrence, discusses a bill that would make information regarding the recipients of state contracts open to the public during a press conference, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Wilson is also sponsoring a provision to legalize hemp oil in a marijuana reform bill.

A proposed reform of hemp and marijuana laws garnered support from a majority of readers in our latest LJWorld.com survey.

The new survey of 1,000 readers shows most are in favor of a bill in the Kansas Senate that would both reduce penalties for first- and second-time marijuana charges and legalize the use of hemp oil for treatment of certain seizure disorders, though it has not been approved for such use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The bill would also promote industrial hemp research.

The hemp oil provision, sponsored by Rep. John Wilson, D-Lawrence, received slightly more support than the part of the bill to soften penalties for possession.

About this article

A Thousand Voices is a feature that surveys readers of LJWorld.com about their opinions on a variety of issues being debated by the public. The Journal-World will regularly conduct a poll that captures a representative sample of the approximately 35,000 users of LJWorld.com. All polling will be conducted by our partner, Google Consumer Surveys. The Google system chooses participants for the poll at random. Users of LJWorld.com have no ability to choose to take the poll. Some people had this survey presented to them when they went to our website and some didn’t. Each poll consists of at least 1,000 responses from website users. The survey software calculates results using margins of error and 95 percent confidence levels common to the polling industry.

If you have a topic you would like to see as part of a future poll, please suggest it to Nikki Wentling at nwentling@ljworld.com.

Here’s a look at the results:

• When asked whether they’d support a measure that would reduce criminal penalties for first- and second-time offenders for marijuana possession, 64.5 percent of respondents answered “yes.” Nearly 20 percent — 19.9 — said they were “not sure,” and 15.5 percent said “no,” they wouldn’t support it. The results had a margin of error of 2.1 to 2.9 percentage points.

• When asked about support for the hemp oil provision, a significant number of respondents — 78.1 percent — said “yes.” Seven percent answered “no,” and 14.9 percent said “not sure.” The results had a margin of error of 1.7 to 2.6 percent.

Before being asked to answer the survey, people had to say whether they were registered voters in Kansas. Only those who answered “yes” were able to see the remaining questions.

The Kansas Senate’s Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee heard testimony Wednesday and Thursday from both supporters and opponents of House Bill 2049, the Journal-World’s Peter Hancock reported. Senators are expected to continue discussing the bill this week.

On Wednesday, senators heard from the parents of a son diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy, who pleaded with lawmakers to pass the bill, which would let them try a less-conventional form of treatment after their multiple attempts with traditional medications and treatments.

A Navy veteran testified Thursday, contesting the hemp-oil provision of the bill because it is not broad enough to allow him to use the treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Law enforcement representatives who testified said that the loose restrictions in the bill posed a public safety threat.

Last week’s discussion of the bill came just before the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday struck down a voter-approved ordinance in Wichita that reduced penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

That case had been closely watched by activists in other Kansas communities.