On Tuesday, Kentucky voters took to the polls and elected Matt Bevin governor. Bevin, a Republican and Tea Party favorite, has acknowledged what the vast majority of voters know: “There is unequivocal medical evidence” that medical marijuana is beneficial for certain conditions. He defeated prohibitionist Jack Conway (D) 52.5% to 43.8%.
With House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) sponsoring medical marijuana legislation, next year holds great promise for the state taking a serious, bipartisan look at a more compassionate approach.
Americans living in 23 states and the nation’s capital can legally use and access medical cannabis, and upwards of 80% of Americans support allowing the seriously ill to use this beneficial medicine. Yet, some politicians — including defeated gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway — still haven’t gotten the message.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please make sure your lawmakers hear: Voters expect them to end the cruel status quo and to stop forcing patients to risk their freedom to improve their health.
The medical marijuana issue got a big boost in Kentucky this week when a bill was introduced by House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg). The bill, HB 3, would make medical marijuana legal for Kentucky patients who are certified by a physician. It would task the Department of Public Health with establishing a patient registry, issuing ID cards to patients who qualify, and licensing and regulating dispensaries that would produce and sell medical marijuana for patients’ use.
Unfortunately, the bill is very restrictive in many respects. Although it covers a broad range of medical conditions, it does not allow patients to cultivate their own plants, and it only allows medical marijuana to be used in a non-smoked form. However, HB 3 is a much better bill than the very limited CBD-only bill that passed in 2014, and if implemented, it would bring great relief to many patients who are suffering needlessly.
Stumbo said he does not expect the bill to become law this year, but he told reporters that he sees the issue gaining support in Frankfort. "I think it's one of those issues ... that the more people learn about it, the less they fear it," he said.
Kentucky advocates for medical marijuana received a pleasant surprise last week when several media outlets reported that House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) is now “leaning in favor” of passing a medical marijuana law.
Stumbo, formerly the state’s attorney general, has long been considered an opponent of reforming marijuana laws. When Kentucky was considering a bill to allow industrial hemp earlier this year, Stumbo’s attempt to block the bill resulted ina public dispute with the state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Stumbo eventually relented under strong public pressure and allowed the bill to pass.
Although industrial hemp and medical marijuana are very different issues, advocates feared Stumbo would take a similar attitude toward medical marijuana legislation. His recent comments would appear to pave the way for the Kentucky House to seriously consider a medical marijuana bill in 2014.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please click here to write your elected officials and ask them to sign on in support of medical marijuana legislation.