Across the nation, state legislators are having productive debates on the prospects of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, for medicinal, and in some cases, recreational use. Here in Kansas, we have SB 9, also known as the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act, which would establish rules and regulations regarding the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. In order for the Kansas State Senate to hold a vote on this bill, the Senate committee on Public Health and Welfare must first approve the bill for passage to the Senate floor. Unfortunately, the chair of that committee, Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook, refuses to give the bill any consideration, and also blocked the last bill pertaining to medicinal marijuana to be voted on by the Kansas Senate.
Her reasoning behind this is simple: Pilcher-Cook does not think allowing Kansans to choose their own medical treatments is a high enough priority for consideration by the Senate.
So what does Pilcher-Cook place a high priority on, in regards to health care in Kansas? Apparently, viewing live sonograms in committee meetings, meetings that cost the taxpayers $600 apiece, is a priority worthy of our Senate committees’s limited time. Without Pilcher-Cook’s leadership on this matter, our Senators on the committee might have had to resort to viewing their own children’s sonograms, or even having to google the term “sonogram footage” on the internet.
This of course begs the question of why Senator Pilcher-Cook felt the need to present a live sonogram viewing in the Senate committee meeting. Pilcher-Cook claims that she is going to introduce legislation that would ban surrogacy in Kansas, prohibiting hopeful mothers who cannot conceive children due to medical reasons from allowing other women to carry their children. Confused? So is everyone else. Pilcher-Cook was asked for details by the Topeka-Capitol Journal, but because she was not holding a copy of the bill in hand, she promised to send the newspaper more information. This never happened.
In a state where freedom of the individual to make their own health care decisions dominates the debate over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Pilcher-Cook seems oddly out-of-step, with not only her Republican colleagues, but with reality as well.
Over the last several years, respected doctors around the nation have come forward with research demonstrating the benefits of medicinal marijuana for cancer patients and even children suffering from constant seizures. Recent opinion polls show that 70% of Kansans approve of medicinal marijuana, and Senator Pilcher-Cook is ignoring SB 9 to focus on banning surrogate motherhood. As for her claims that the legislature might not support such a bill, she also seems a bit out of touch with what Kansans want. The Silver-Haired Legislature recently passed a non-binding resolution in favor of medicinal marijuana by a 2/3 majority vote. While the Silver-Haired Legislature does operate independently of the State Legislature, they represent over 450,000 senior citizens in Kansas.
Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook is using her position as chair of the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare to block the will of the people of Kansas, while wasting tax dollars and precious committee time on issues that virtually no one understands, let alone supports. Since Pilcher-Cook feels that our legislative committees are open for demonstrations, perhaps we should fill an upcoming meeting with cancer patients. The committee meets daily, at 1:30 pm, in room 118-N in the State Capitol.