OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly proposed Monday that Kansas should legalize marijuana for medical purposes and use the revenues to expand Medicaid health care for low-income residents, a top priority that the GOP-controlled Legislature has blocked over cost concerns.
Kelly’s plan is sure to further rile the conservative Republicans who lead both legislative chambers, but it could make Kansas the first state to use revenues from legalized marijuana to expand Medicaid coverage. The National Conference of State Legislatures said it knows of no state that has done so.
The Democratic governor said during a news conference at a Kansas City-area health care software company’s headquarters that she was making the marijuana proposal to counter GOP arguments that Kansas can’t afford Medicaid expansion. She and other expansion supporters have dismissed those concerns because the federal government has promised to cover most of the costs, but the issue remains a key obstacle.