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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

OPINION: Marijuana should be legalized in Kansas

Preston Caylor

Kansas is one of four states in which marijuana is fully illegal with a few decriminalization laws in Lawrence and Wichita, and we are surrounded by varying degrees of legality — with Colorado and Missouri being fully legalized, Oklahoma being a mix of decriminalized and legalized medical marijuana, and Nebraska being decriminalized. 

As of the 2023 Kansas Speaks survey, 67.2% of Kansans supported the legalization of recreational marijuana usage for those over 21, and 63.6% of Kansans said they would likely vote for a candidate who supported the legalization of marijuana. 

The people of Kansas have spoken; it’s time to legalize. 

So far, all of the legislation that has gone to the state government has been shot down or tabled and never brought back. 

Most recently, Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law SB 28, “Claire and Lola’s Law.” This law prohibits the Kansas Department of Children and Families and other state agencies from removing a child over CBD oil usage, and it provides a defense for possession of CBD oils with up to 5% THC — preventing convictions and keeping families together. 

If Kansas were to legalize marijuana, the state would be able to invest tax revenue from the sales of marijuana into better infrastructure and alleviate waiting lists for services that should be readily available to Kansans enrolled in Medicaid. 

There would also be benefits for the agricultural and educational economies through engaging in university research on marijuana. This boost in the economy has been seen in other states that have legalized marijuana. 

Think of the betterment of our streets, parks, and social programs. 

Imagine driving and not having massive potholes that mess with the suspension in your car since the city would have more money to fix the potholes. 

Imagine better parks for kids, maybe less used needles and other paraphernalia in these parks — and less risk of children stabbing themselves with said needles. 

Imagine that new revenue being invested in our neglected neighborhoods, bringing them up and supporting the communities there. 

Imagine some of the funds going to Wichita State and improving the historical buildings that desperately need it, and not brand-new, shiny multimillion-dollar buildings. 

Federally, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has moved to classify marijuana as a less dangerous drug. If the proposal is signed off on, the DEA will remove marijuana from its classification as a Schedule 1 drug, others being heroin and LSD, to a Schedule 3 drug, like testosterone and Tylenol with codeine. 

As a Schedule 1 drug, the government deems marijuana addictive and with no accepted medical use, despite several states legalizing and implementing systems for regulation, testing, and selling. 

Some people claim marijuana is a dangerous “gateway drug” that would lead people to take increasingly dangerous drugs, like heroin or methamphetamine. Research has shown that this is not necessarily true. 

Yes, some people who use marijuana go on to use harder drugs, but that cannot be fully blamed on marijuana. There are several factors that should be considered. More in-depth research would need to be done on marijuana as a drug to confidently answer that question. 

Classifying the drug as Schedule 3 will allow further research to be done on it, as it is difficult to conduct authorized studies on Schedule 1 substances. 

This move to reclassify marijuana comes after President Joe Biden called for the review of federal marijuana laws in October 2022 and moved to pardon thousands of Americans who have been convicted federally of simple possession charges. He urged state governments to do the same. 

This pardon is a massive step toward decriminalizing marijuana and addressing the practices that have affected people of color disproportionately, stemming from the War on Drugs. 

The War on Drugs itself created and perpetuated several misconceptions about drugs in general, but mainly about marijuana. Former commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger pushed a campaign that linked marijuana to minority groups and accused the drug of triggering crime outbreaks. 

In 1994, President Richard Nixon’s domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told reporter Dan Baum that the War on Drugs was a war on Black people and the anti-war leftists. He openly admitted that Nixon’s administration knew that they were perpetrating lies about the drugs, and purposely vilifying black people and anti-war protestors. 

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the (Vietnam) war or Black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said to Baum. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” 

It is time for the outdated policies to change; the War on Drugs has gone on for too long. 

If you support the decriminalization of marijuana, urge state legislators to do the same, be it by email or phone call. As students on a college campus, we have a unique power in using our voices. 

We’re young, and I’m sure sick of these old, outdated and irrelevant policies created decades ago. Our voices matter. We can promote change in marijuana laws to better our society and, subsequently, our institutions of higher learning.

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About the Contributors
Maleah Evans
Maleah Evans, Reporter
Maleah Evans is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. Evans is a junior studying history and communications with a journalism emphasis. They plan to pursue a career working in a museum. In their free time, they can often be found ranting about cryptids or Greek mythology. Evans uses they/them pronouns
Preston Caylor
Preston Caylor, Illustrator/Designer
Preston Caylor is a freshman at Wichita State majoring in animation, and this is his first year on staff at The Sunflower. Caylor grew up in Wichita and has always been fond of drawing, animation and music. In the future, he plans on making his way to a big animation company such as Disney or Pixar to either be an animator or animation director. Fun Fact: Caylor plays eight instruments: guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, horn, trumpet, alto saxophone and tenor saxophone. Caylor uses he/him pronouns.

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