So, about the law against marijuana.

Do we have one, or not?

As The Mercury reported in its weekend edition, you can at this very moment walk into stores right here in Manhattan, pull out your credit card and buy what amounts to weed. You can use it and get high.

It’s all legal. That’s true all over the state.

This is evidently the case because of a loophole created by the intersection of two recent changes to the laws governing marijuana. The upshot is that what’s called “Delta-8” doesn’t meet the exact definition of marijuana, since it’s one tiny chemical click away from the weed that remains illegal to use or sell in Kansas.

But as a practical matter, it’s the same stuff. Smoke it, chew it up in a gummy, or whatever — use it, and you get stoned.

That’s like saying you can’t shoot anybody with a pistol, but it’s OK with a revolver.

It makes a mockery of the law, and that’s just not tolerable. Either you have a law or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

What I mean by that is simple. The premise for a law against marijuana is that its effects — the way it gets a user high — are judged to be too harmful to be allowed under the law. What other premise could there be? That it smells funny?

If harm is the premise, then how is Delta-8, which does the same thing, legal? Or, to use the same logic, if Delta-8 is judged to be harmless enough to be legal, then how is regular marijuana against the law?

The Legislature needs to do something about that inconsistency. Which of course means that a full-on debate about legalization has to happen.

Everybody knows that debate has been coming for some time. Pot is legal in Colorado, and legal for “medical” use in Missouri and Oklahoma. It’s been decriminalized in Nebraska. Kansas is one of only a few states in the country where it’s full-on ilegal.

There’s a “medical” marijuana bill that’s gotten through the House, and so presumably that’s where the debate next session will start. My own view has long been that “medical” marijuana is a farce, a stalking horse for full-on legalization. It’s politically much more palatable to step into it that way since you’re relieving the suffering of patients with certain chronic illnesses. But what this is really about, in the end, is legalizing marijuana.

That debate is at hand. Delta-8 has forced it.

Recommended for you