The Kentucky House on Thursday sent a medical marijuana bill to the state Senate, after passing it on Thursday, reports The Fresh Toast. Sponsored by GOP Rep. Jason Nemes, the bill passed on a 59-34 vote.
Prior to Thursday’s vote, Democratic Rep. Al Gentry delivered an emotional speech telling of several people he personally knows who have benefitted from medical marijuana.
The vote took place just a week after the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee gave it a thumbs up.
Similar Bills Stalled In Kentucky 2020 And 2021
The program launches in early 2023 if ultimately enacted. But it’s probably not quite time to get excited, yet.
A similar version of the bill stalled in the Senate in 2020. That one, too, had soundly passed in the House. Nemes then reintroduced the legislation for the 2021 session. It didn’t do any better that time around.
Democratic Governor Favors Full Legalization
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers filed separate adult-use legalization and medical marijuana bills last month.
According to Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, the most important thing is getting medical marijuana enacted this year. But the governor also supports legislation introduced by Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni. That bill ends people being jailed over marijuana for adult use.
Beshear said he’s in favor of that policy. Kulkarni’s bill legalizes personal possession and cultivation, but doesn’t provide a regulatory framework for commercial sales.
It’s “time we joined so many other states in doing the right thing,” the governor said last year.
He added Kentucky farmers could grow and sell cannabis to other states.
A poll released in 2020 found that nine out of 10 Kentucky residents support legalizing medical marijuana, and almost 60 percent say cannabis should be legal under “any circumstances.”
“Kentucky Grown, Kentucky Processed, Kentucky Tested’
Nemes waxed poetically before the vote, saying “This is Kentucky grown, Kentucky processed, Kentucky tested. Grown by Kentucky farmers on Kentucky land with Kentucky seeds for our Kentucky brothers and sisters and the Kentucky patients from across the Commonwealth.”
Nemes had worked for months to build support for the measure.
It recently got the endorsement of Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Whitney Westerfield. He said he’ll support the House bill, despite his reservations regarding Cannabis reform. Westerfield said he’d heard from constituents who stand to benefit from Cannabis as a medical treatment option, reports Marijuana Moment.
HB 136 Prohibits Home Cultivation, Smoking Flower
HB 136 is actually a rather weak medical marijuana bill. It would prohibit both home cultivation of marijuana, and the smoking of cannabis flower. The bill allows whole-plant products. But it requires that patients vaporize them.
Patients under treatment for cancer, epilepsy and seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, chronic nausea/cyclical vomiting; and chronic, severe, intractable or debilitating pain, are eligible for a medical marijuana authorization.
The bill also allows physician assistants to apply for certifications to authorize medical marijuana. And the licensing board can de-certify any doctor “impaired” by weed. It also regulates fees for medical Cannabis authorizations and for providing “medicinal cannabis consultation services to cardholders.”
PTSD Included Because Of This Democrat
Democratic Rep. Rachel Roberts successfully filed an amendment to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions.
“Of the 37 states who have some form of legalized cannabis, all of them expressly list PTSD as a permissible diagnosis, have full adult-use legalization or include wording in their medical programs to allow doctors some flexibility in prescribing,” Roberts said.
“Kentucky would be the outlier if not including this diagnosis,” the lawmaker added.
And This Republican Did All He Could To Kill The Bill
The bill needed support from Senate Republicans. They are the ones who killed two past versions of Nemes’s proposal. That’s the rationale behind its narrow, restrictive approach.
Take GOP Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer (please). Thayer, who owns a whiskey distillery, strongly opposes the bill. He warns that it’s a fast track to full marijuana legalization.
“I know my constituents are for it,” Thayer said. “But this is a republic. And they elect us to go to Frankfort and make decisions on their behalf And if they don’t like it, they can take it out on me in the next election.”
Kentucky voters? The ball is in your court.