Kentucky House passes medical cannabis bill

Kentucky’s House of Representatives recently passed a bill to legalize medical cannabis in the state. The Republican-led House passed
the bill after many months of debate, and it will need to pass in the Republican-led Senate to become law. Many Republicans have parrotted myths started during the War on Drugs while opposing legalization.

“The common denominator of 99.9% of the drug addiction problem in America started with marijuana,” Republican Rep. Chris Fugate said.

“I know real people that had their lives turned around by these products, and a lot of them are living in the closet or living in secrecy because they feel like they’re a criminal,” said Democratic Rep. Al Gentry, a co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill would create a very limited medical cannabis program. It would allow patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, PTSD, epilepsy and chronic nausea to obtain cannabis products. It would not allow home cultivation of cannabis or the smoking of cannabis flower, but it would allow cannabis to be vaporized.

Matthew Bratcher, executive director of Kentucky NORML, told Cannabis News Box that those last restrictions are disappointing.

“While we’re happy to see a medical cannabis bill get this far in the legislative process once again, without smokable flower and patient home grows, it is far from the patient-centric program that Kentuckians deserve. If this bill were to pass, it would certainly be a great win for Kentucky’s patients and its cannabis community, but we will continue to advocate for expanded accessibility, and affordability for patients,” Bratcher said.

Around 90 percent of Kentucky residents support legalizing medical cannabis, so it’s clear pressure on the state’s politicians to do something has grown over the years. Many supporters of this bill have said it could help reduce the number of people who are getting addicted to opioids, which
has been a major problem in the state.

It’s not yet clear what will happen when the Senate takes on the bill, but some Republicans who would be pivotal in getting it passed have said they’re open to debating the bill and not explicitly opposed to passing a medical cannabis bill. As often happens, it will likely take another fight over the details of the legislation before something can possibly get passed. The Democratic governor of the state has voiced support for passing
a medical cannabis bill, so he would likely sign whatever bill was passed.