MPP Releases 2018 Strategic Plan


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MPP is excited to be moving into 2018 at a time when marijuana policy reform has unprecedented momentum. While there are sure to be challenges ahead, MPP is confident that we will make great strides this year.

You can find the strategic plan here.

In a great sign of things to come, one of our goals is already on the verge of success. On Thursday, the Vermont legislature passed a bill that would make possession and limited home cultivation legal in the Green Mountain State! The bill is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.

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Kentucky Republican Senate Leader Proposes Regulating Marijuana


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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.

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Update: Kentucky Bills Introduced


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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.

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Medical and Legalization Bills Pre-Filed in Kentucky


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The Kentucky Legislature reconvened last week for the 2017-18 session, and Sen. Perry Clark has already prefiled two bills that would reform marijuana laws in the Commonwealth. One bill would end Kentucky’s criminalization of adult marijuana consumers, instead taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. Another bill would permit seriously ill Kentuckians — both adults and minors — to access medical marijuana.

Effective medical marijuana programs have been created in 28 states, and Kentucky patients should have the same access. Meanwhile, legalizing marijuana for adult use would allow the state to generate tax revenue from adult marijuana sales while providing the tools needed to adequately regulate the production and sale of marijuana.

Under current laws, possession of less than eight ounces of marijuana is punishable by 45 days in jail and a $250 fine. There is a narrow medical exception for patients with intractable seizures, but the marijuana must be provided by a physician, which would be a violation of federal law.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please contact your lawmakers today and urge them to support compassionate medical and adult-use marijuana policy reforms.

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Kentucky Nurses Association Supports Medical Marijuana


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On July , the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations held a public hearing to consider testimony on the medical use of marijuana. At a press conference prior to the hearing, patients received a strong endorsement from the Kentucky Nurses Association, which announced its support for the proposed reform.Kentucky_Nurses_Association_Logo

“I hope that folks are going to see that when registered nurses say this is an important access to care issue, that folks are going to look at it as the medical and patient care issue that it is and not as a social issue,” said Maureen Keenan, executive director of the KNA.

It is apparent that some Kentucky legislators are evolving on the issue and becoming supporters of allowing medical marijuana. However, others remain vigorously opposed, and many still seem reluctant to discuss the issue in public. If you are a Kentucky resident, please take a moment to send your elected officials a message in support of medical marijuana legislation.

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Kentucky Governor-Elect Supports Allowing Medical Marijuana


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Matt Bevin

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.

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Medical Marijuana Emerges as Top Issue in Kentucky Governor’s Race


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Medical marijuana unexpectedly dominated much of the news coverage following a recent debate between the major party candidates for Kentucky governor, Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway.

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.

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Matt Bevin

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.

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Kentucky House Speaker Introduces Medical Marijuana Bill


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Speaker Greg Stumbo

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.

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Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes Says It is Time to Discuss Making Marijuana Legal in Kentucky


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According to Kentucky.com, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes — whose tight race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is receiving national media attention — said it is “worthwhile” for elected officials to discuss the prospect of making marijuana legal in the state of Kentucky.

Alison Lundergan Grimes

“I would want to the have the discussion, and I think that it’s worthwhile to bring the experts together and talk about the reclassification, especially for medical purposes,” Grimes said.

In addition, Grimes criticized McConnell for not recognizing the economic benefits Colorado is experiencing after making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol.

Robert Steurer, a spokesman for McConnell’s Senate office, said in a statement yesterday that “Senator McConnell is strongly opposed to the legalization of marijuana as Kentucky families deserve no less.”

According to a Bluegrass Poll of registered Kentucky voters taken in February, 52% favored “allowing the use of medical marijuana in Kentucky.” Just 37% were opposed.

 

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Limited CBD Bill Becomes Law in Kentucky


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The Kentucky Legislature adjourned last week, ending its work for the year. Sadly, although the House Health and Welfare Committee approved an effective medical marijuana bill in February, it was not called for a vote in the House.

Legislators did make an effort to help some seriously ill patients who could benefit from cannabidiol (“CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana). On Thursday, April 10, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a proposal that is intended to allow patients to use CBD if directed to do so by a physician. The new law went into effect immediately with his signature, but, unfortunately, it is unlikely that it will actually result in patients being able to access CBD.

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Gov. Steve Beshear

Despite concerns about access, and the fact that this legislation excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients, it is still a positive step forward. For more information on this new law, please see our summary of S.B. 124.

 

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