Recent Kansas Editorials

November 12, 2019 GMT

The Topeka Capital-Journal, Nov. 6

Kansas should join majority, legalize medical marijuana

In June of 2018, 57% of Oklahoma voters cast a vote in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. A few months later in Missouri, 66% of voters showed their support.

As our neighboring states offer residents an additional tool to treat many medical conditions, Kansas lawmakers finally seem to recognize that continued dismissal of medical marijuana options isn’t prudent.

“This thing is going to go-go-go eventually, and we all need to kind of be at the table and make it a good piece of legislation to help people,” said Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Wichita Democrat, during a recent meeting of the Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs.

She is right. We commend the special committee for beginning the conversation about cannabis and its role in Kansas.

The committee voted to recommend to the Legislature an affirmative defense for out-of-state residents who carry legally obtained medical marijuana through Kansas. Should a person be stopped by law enforcement and found in possession of cannabis for medical reasons, they could argue in court the cannabis was legally prescribed in their home state.

We support this as a minimum measure and urge the Legislature to go further. It is a waste of public safety resources to prosecute men and women visiting Kansas who are using medically prescribed cannabis.

Committee members also recommended the Legislature begin discussions about medical marijuana from the framework of a bill passed in Ohio in 2016. The Ohio bill permits approved physicians to prescribe cannabis for patients with certain medical conditions, like PTSD, cancer, chronic pain and Crohn’s disease. Smoking and growing marijuana aren’t permitted under the Ohio bill. The prescription allows patients to seek cannabis treatments in the form of topicals and edibles.

While public opinion continues to rise for medical marijuana options, barriers remain from law enforcement.

“Proponents of this, they want to get high,” Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said to the committee. “That’s my opinion of it, and that’s the opinion of law enforcement.”

It is irresponsible of the sheriff to reduce supporters of medical marijuana to high-seekers. Cannabis products are safely and legally used for medical purposes in 33 states. Kansans want what others have — the option to use the products if faced with an illness or chronic condition. And frankly, they shouldn’t have to worry about prosecution for treating medical conditions.

Chad Issinghoff, a medical doctor practicing in Hutchinson, summed up the issue nicely in his testimony: “I do not believe that medicinal cannabis is a medical panacea. Nor do I believe that the State of Kansas is opening a Pandora’s box if medicinal cannabis is approved. I do believe that medicinal cannabis might offer to those who suffer from chronic illnesses some benefit in reducing symptom severity, a decrease in conventional medication side effects, increased ability to tolerate a wide variety of symptoms, and to better function in society.”

Kansas doesn’t have to create anything new. The Legislature would be wise to assess what’s working across the country and adopt a reasonable policy that allows adults the ability to access cannabis-based remedies prescribed by a doctor.


The Kansas City Star, Nov. 8

Kansas City Star Logo

Kansas doesn’t need new coal-fired power plant spewing ‘beautiful, clean’ toxins

What Kansas really needs is a nice new asbestos plant or metal mine. Maybe we could bring back production of lead paint or the Ford Pinto. Or strictly as a backup, a power plant fired by “beautiful, clean coal” sending beautiful, clean mercury, arsenic and dioxins into the atmosphere, along with a whole delightful mélange of greenhouse gases.

Even proponents of that last one have got to know that The Star’s report of “significant interest” in a new coal-fired power plant in Holcomb, outside Garden City, reflects the very latest thinking from the 1880s.

There is a reason that no such facility has been built in this country in the last four years, and that not one is under construction, either.

Kansas gets more than a third of its electricity from wind energy — more than any other state. Both wind and solar power are getting more cost-effective all the time, and coal ever less competitive.

Going backward in this way would make no more sense than the current federal insistence that California abandon its efforts to set its own emission standards and fight climate change, even as it burns.

Yet Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corporation has asked for an 18-month extension of the permit it needs “to finalize the arrangements that would support its construction” of a plant it doesn’t need, according to the request it sent to the state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) renewed the permit through March 27 of next year.

Twelve years ago, then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius spoke out against the plan, and in 2007, KDHE cited climate change in denying Sunflower the permits it would have needed to build it.

Then Sebelius left office and her successor, Republican-turned-Democrat Mark Parkinson, approved the construction.

By the time the Kansas Supreme Court finally approved the project too, in 2017, it seemed like the moot point that it should have been.

Even in its request for the permit extension, Sunflower Electric admitted that it no longer needs the electricity the plant would produce.

And even some of those you might expect to support it know better: “I’m not sure that the business model can be made for increasing more generation through coal,” said Rep. Russell Jennings, the Republican who represents Holcomb. “It’s a pretty expensive proposition to get into it.”

Unnecessary, expensive and bad for the environment, this project is an idea whose time has expired.


The Manhattan Mercury, Nov. 5

Pompeo’s loyalty should be to truth, whatever that is

Mike Pompeo, a fellow Kansan, is right in the middle of the biggest issue in the world.

We’ve long admired Mr. Pompeo’s intellect and his energy. We could see long ago that he was likely to be very successful. We figured he would represent Kansas very well.

We’ll find out fairly soon if we can still trust him. At the moment, it doesn’t look very good.

Mr. Pompeo, a Wichita businessman and lawyer, once represented Kansas in Congress. He is currently the U.S. Secretary of State. That means he’s the highest-ranking diplomat in the country, in charge of the U.S. diplomatic corps across the globe. That includes U.S. interaction with Ukraine — and that’s why he’s front and center in the biggest story in the world.

It turns out that he was on the phone as his boss, President Donald Trump, was talking to the Ukrainian president in a crucial call. There’s no question that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and Mr. Biden’s son. There’s also no question that Mr. Trump held up millions of dollars of aid to Ukraine.

There’s also been plenty of testimony by participants and witnesses in recent days that the two were directly linked — in other words, that Mr. Trump held up U.S. aid to Ukraine as leverage to get that country to do him political favors. Most recently, the well-respected career diplomat who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine testified that she felt threatened by Mr. Trump to carry out that agenda.

Mr. Pompeo, who was in Manhattan this fall to give a Landon Lecture, has thus far attempted to block officials under him from testifying to Congress about this matter. He has not defended his own appointees from attack by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Pompeo has also recently supported Mr. Trump’s call for an investigation into a discredited, partisan theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, who interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign. That’s despite the fact that Mr. Pompeo knows of the solid evidence, including from U.S. intelligence, that it was Russia.

We understand fully that Mr. Pompeo works for President Trump. He ought to be loyal.

But his real loyalty is to truth, justice and the American way, to borrow a phrase.

With Congress pursuing a full-on, public impeachment inquiry now, we are about to find out whether those two loyalties were in conflict, and which way he has chosen to go.

For the sake of Mr. Pompeo, and for the sake of the country, we’ll hope he has made the right choices.