Marijuana Legalization Remains a Hot Button Issue in Kentucky
The debate to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky continues to stir controversy as a bill appears dead in the 2022 session of the General Assembly. The bill, which already won approval in the House on March 17th, has not reached a vote in the Senate.
What is KY House Bill 136?
House Bill 136 would allow medicinal marijuana to be licensed to be grown, processed, and dispensed in Kentucky. It would also make it legal to prescribe cannabis to Kentuckians with specific conditions outlined in the bill such as epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Support Was Heavy for HB 136
Julie Cantwell, an advocate of the bill who has a son that suffers from seizures, stated, “We’ve got 37 states that know that this is medicine. It’s time for Kentucky to get on board.”
Republican Rep. James Nemes, a leading sponsor of the bill, spoke passionately about the bill before it came to a vote in the House.
“If your physician, or your wife or husband’s physician, or God forbid your child’s physician told you that this product works in other states, and it would help your child, what would you do? If you would fight for your kid, hit the green button,” he said.
WKYT reported widespread support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky. According to a poll from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, nine in ten adults support it.
Gov. Andy Beshear Supports Medical Marijuana Legalization in KY
On March 25th, Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear, took to social media to show his support for the bill.
Who is Keeping HB 136 from a Vote in the Senate?
So, with the support of the governor and a large majority of Kentuckians, what is keeping the bill from a vote in the Senate?
Many politicians who oppose the bill fear the impact that the legalization of marijuana could have on the state’s drug addiction cases.
“The common denominator of 99.9% of the drug addiction problem in America started with marijuana,” Republican Rep. Chris Fugate said.
Other state lawmakers’ opposition stems from the federal government’s standpoint.
“We are asking as a body to go on emotion rather than a legal standpoint. Our federal government has said that marijuana is against the law,” Rep. Matt Lockett said.
For many, like Senate President Robert Stivers, their opposition comes from wanting to see more testing.
Louisville-area pain specialist Dr. James Patrick Murphy, MD spoke against the bill, stating more study is needed on medical marijuana before it is prescribed to patients.
“We’re just not ready yet for it to be a medicine to be prescribed. It’s simply not a medicine to prescribe,” he said.
Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer stated there is not enough support in the Senate to pass medical marijuana. However, advocates of the bill remain hopeful and continue to push for a Senate vote.
The Senate did not bring it up for a vote as of Wednesday.
Lawmakers are currently on a two-week break and will reconvene on April 13. It's still possible that House Bill 136 could pass during their last two days but it's not looking like that will happen at this point.
I Want to Talk to My Legislators About this Issue
If you would like to call and leave a message for your legislator, please call the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. You can also call 1-866-840-2835 for updates about a bill's status.