Kansas Gov. Says Medical Cannabis Legalization Is Key to Expanding Medicaid

Kansas Gov. Kelly Chambers (D) has proposed adopting medical cannabis legalization in the state and using funds from the program to pay for expansions to Medicaid.

Full story after the jump.

Kansas’ Democratic Gov. Kelly Chambers is proposing adopting medical cannabis in the state, and then using that money to pay for Medicaid expansion, the Associated Press reports. In a news conference held at a Kansas City health care software firm, the governor said she made the proposal to directly confront Republican claims that a Medicaid expansion would be too costly, a position that Kansas’ Republican party has held since the Obama administration.

Looking to make good on her campaign promises to expand Medicaid and legalize medical cannabis, the governor said at the news conference, “I’m hoping they will set aside the political party differences and recognize that both components of this bill, Medicaid expansion and medical legalization are extraordinarily popular among their constituents.”

Despite the endorsement of Democratic legislators and the governor’s enthusiasm, Republican leaders — who hold super majorities in both bodies of the legislature — have already come out against the plan. House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins told the AP he thought Kelly was focused on “high hopes and pipedreams.”

“Governor Kelly envisions a Kansas where you can choose not to work and taxpayers will foot the bill for you to stay home and smoke supposedly medicinal marijuana.” — New Mexico House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, in a text to the AP

The governor’s current budget envisions adding 165,000 users to the state’s Medicaid system by July 1, 2021. In its first half-year, she estimates the initial expansion would cost Kansas $19 million, while the federal government would spend $541 million on the program. She estimates, however, that the state could raise up to $50 million per year by expanding medical cannabis, thereby eliminating the GOP’s main objections.

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