The continuing crisis in government lawlessness in Frontenac, Kansas, may, in fact, be even more than that. It may be about the larger, universal issues of individual liberty and compassion.
After the city administrator understandably fired an employee for testing positive for marijuana in a random test last year, the city council oddly appears to have retaliated by summarily firing the city administrator, city clerk and city attorney by a 6-2 vote Sept. 16. They’ve never officially been told why they were ousted, though former Mayor Linda Grilz — who resigned in protest of their firing — says it was clearly for their various roles in the other employee’s termination.
As if firing city officials for merely doing their jobs isn’t enough of an affront, since then the city has stubbornly denied lawful requests to see public records that might help explain the mysterious firings. The Kansas Attorney General’s office is investigating the illegal denials, and the three former officials are readying a federal lawsuit against the city.
Those three are the main victims in this case. But there may be an unexpected fourth victim in this twisted tale of secrecy and bad government in this southeast Kansas town. The employee firing that started it all is now a matter of great intrigue — and should be a source of moral outrage — as it touches on Kansas’ chronic, obstinate denial of medical marijuana and related treatment options for those who are ill.
While the medical marijuana bus left the station long ago in most states, Kansas lawmakers are blithely telling sick Kansans to walk on without it.
In a letter, the lawyer for the fired Frontenac employee acknowledged but disputed the positive test for marijuana, writing that she was using CBD oil to relieve joint pain after chemotherapy for breast cancer.
It must be said that under Kansas law, the vast majority of CBD oil, a cannabis plant extract, doesn’t contain THC, marijuana’s psychoactive, high-inducing ingredient. Moreover, Frontenac city officials maintain that they’ve been told by drug-testing experts that CBD oil could not produce such a strong positive for marijuana.
And while he hears anecdotal evidence of all kinds, Eddie Smith, operator of CBD store “Into the Mystic” in Mission, Kansas, confirms that most CBD oil sold in the state should contain no THC, and therefore wouldn’t be expected to produce a false positive.
To be clear, we don’t know what happened in this employee’s case. But might seriously ailing Kansans be tempted to travel to Colorado, Missouri or Oklahoma where they can legally obtain medical marijuana to relieve their suffering? Who among us could honestly blame a loved one for doing it? Yet it remains illegal in Kansas.
Certainly the indignity of being fired for medical marijuana would pale in comparison to that of being fired for actually doing one’s job, as seems to be the case for the Frontenac city clerk, city attorney and city administrator. And, unbelievably, after those three were fired, the employee who was terminated for marijuana use was reinstated — with a promotion, no less, to city clerk. The incongruity is astounding, as is the potential legal liability.
Still, if the Frontenac employee in question were to have sought out medical marijuana and been fired for it, many of us would rightly assign a good bit of the blame to Kansas’ uncaring, outdated laws denying the sick the relief they need and deserve — aid that a majority of states now offer.
Indeed, R.E. “Tuck” Duncan, a lobbyist for the Kansas Cannabis Industry Association, says 36 states have legalized medical marijuana.
The Kansas Legislature’s Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs last year studied the issue and, sadly, recommended Kansas stick not its toe into medical marijuana but the tip of its toenail — merely allowing residents of other states to use it here, but not residents. The committee also suggested studying Ohio’s approach, which limits patients to 90-day supplies and allows edibles, patches and oils.
“Underwhelming” doesn’t quite tell the tale. Come on, Kansas legislators. You can do better.
Freedom and compassion demand it.