Kentucky’s legislative session begins today, and marijuana policy reforms are already among the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. Lawmakers have indicated that they will soon be introducing several marijuana policy bills, including a medical cannabis bill, a decriminalization bill, and an adult-use legalization bill.
Although we support all of these bills, we believe the bill that has the strongest chance of passing in 2019 is the medical cannabis bill that will soon be introduced by Republican Reps. Jason Nemes and Diane St. Onge. A few months ago, Rep. Nemes confidently predicted that it would pass the legislature in 2019. However, we know that the effort will face strong opposition in the Senate, where Majority Leader Damon Thayer recently said, “I don't see the votes for medical marijuana yet.”
In order for this bill to pass, legislators will need to hear an outpouring of support from their constituents. After you write your elected officials, please share this message with your friends and family!
This year, there have been many encouraging signs that Kentucky is making progress towards allowing medical cannabis. Gov. Matt Bevin has clearly indicated his support for medical cannabis legislation, and several new legislative champions have emerged, led by Reps. Jason Nemes and Diane St. Onge. Unfortunately, Senate President Robert Stivers continues to claim that he hasn’t seen any evidence that medical cannabis is effective.
Sen. Stivers’ opposition has long been a source of frustration for patients and advocates, but his recent comments on the issue have been truly infuriating. Last week, while speaking to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Sen. Stivers reportedly suggested that if patients want to “relax” or “feel better,” they should drink bourbon instead of trying medical cannabis.
Sen. Stivers is now facing heavy criticism for these comments in the Louisville Courier-Journal and elsewhere. Please take a moment to call Sen. Stivers’ office today and let him know how you feel about hearing such an uninformed and callous statement from the President of the Kentucky Senate. If you’re on Twitter, you can also voice your opinion in a tweet.
After you call Sen. Stivers’ office, please share this message with your family and friends!
There has been a tremendous groundswell of support for medical cannabis in Kentucky this year, and the legislature is finally beginning to listen. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee began considering testimony in support of HB 166, a bill that would make Kentucky the 30th state to pass an effective medical cannabis law. A similar bill, SB 118, has already generated quite a bit of discussion in the Senate.
Patients who are struggling with serious medical conditions in Kentucky have already waited far too long for legal protections and safe, legal access to cannabis. The current legislative session is scheduled to end in mid-April, so it’s time for representatives and senators to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representatives and senators right now and urge them to support medical cannabis legislation in 2018.
The Kentucky Legislature began its 2018 session last week, and marijuana policy reforms are already among the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. A medical cannabis bill, HB 166, has already been introduced in the House.
But that’s not all. Sen. Dan Seum, chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, held a press conference to announce that he is introducing a bill, SB 80, that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please send your representatives and senators a message and urge them to support reforming marijuana laws in 2018.
The lack of progress on marijuana policy reform in Kentucky has been frustrating, but it appears that the tide may finally be turning. Last week, Senator Dan Malano Seum (R-Fairdale) gave Kentuckians something to get excited about when he announced that he would sponsor a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.
Advocates couldn’t ask for a more influential champion than Senator Seum. He has been in the state Senate for more than 20 years, and he currently serves as caucus chairman for the Senate Republicans, who hold a 27-11 majority in Frankfort. However, he won’t be able to pass this bill unless he receives a great deal of support from his colleagues.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representative and senator today, and urge them to support Senator Seum’s proposal!
We expect that this bill will be introduced in early 2018, but the important work of building statewide support for reform must begin now.
Sen. Perry Clark has introduced two bills that would overhaul marijuana policies in Kentucky. SB 57 would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill Kentuckians, and SB 72 would legalize marijuana for adult use and create a regulated and taxed system.
SB 57 would protect qualifying patients from arrest and allow them to cultivate marijuana plants. It would also allow them to obtain medical marijuana from dispensaries, which would be regulated by the state.
SB 72 would take Kentucky in the direction of the eight states that have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. This would divert millions of dollars away from the illicit drug market and into the hands of Kentucky businesses that would be regulated and taxed by the state. Unfortunately, legislators are not likely to take this bill as seriously in 2017, so we believe it may be best to focus email advocacy in support of the medical marijuana bill until the political landscape changes.
Conway, Kentucky's former Attorney General, tried to dismiss the issue from serious consideration. “I don’t want to hear from some hipsters out in Hawaii saying Kentucky needs medical marijuana,” he reportedly said. Bevin, on the other hand, acknowledged “there is unequivocal medical evidence” that medical marijuana is beneficial for certain conditions.
Bevin made it clear that he does not support legalization for adult use, but he also acknowledged that prohibition has been unsuccessful:
“We’re on the campus of a university,” the Republican said. Addressing the students in the audience of one thousand, he asked: “Is it not already easy for you to find this on the streets? Come on! Who are we kidding? The only people who can’t get it are the people who abide by the law!”
For information on how and where to vote in the election on November 3, visit the Kentucky State Board of Elections’ Voter Information Center.
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.