Kentucky Governor plans on using executive order to rescue medical cannabis proposal

On Thursday, April 7, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said that he will legalize medical cannabis via an executive order if a proposal doesn’t reach his desk.

Currently, a measure to legalize medical cannabis is withering in the state’s general assembly. 

“We’re going to explore that,” was Beshear’s response after being questioned by reporters if he would consider issuing an executive order to make medical cannabis accessible if the existing bill falls flat.

“It’s something that we will look at. Its time has certainly come,” he added.

Kentucky House of Representatives approved medical cannabis legislation in March 

Beshear’s comments emerged following the March approval of statewide medical cannabis legislation. The legislation, which was passed by members of the Kentucky House of Representatives with a vote of 59-34, would allow patients who qualify under the list of eligible conditions to receive their medicine.

Sponsored by Republican state House Rep. Jason Nemes, the measure would enable physicians to provide a written recommendation for cannabis-based treatments, so long as the patient is diagnosed with one of the featured medical conditions. They include (but are not limited to) cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS) and nausea.

Nemes, the bill’s sponsor, recently opened up about the heartstring-pulling moments he has spent discussing patient and doctor experiences. 

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes disclosed. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Republican-dominated state Senate. A similar situation occurred back in 2020, when the GOP-led House approved a medical cannabis bill in Kentucky, before it was stuck at a standstill in the state Senate.

Kentucky state Senate president dismissed medical cannabis bill early on

There’s one man in particular who has stood in the way of Kentucky’s medical cannabis bill president of the Kentucky state Senate, Robert Stivers. He emphasizes the need for “full-blown studies.”

“[That] would give us the impetus to come back maybe within a year and say this is what cannabis could be used for or not be used for.”

In the event that Kentucky’s medical cannabis bill, HB 136, does gain enough support to pass, it would legalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis in public and 12 ounces in private spaces.