Kentucky Lawmakers Pass A Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana
On Tuesday, a committee of the Kentucky Senate voted to pass a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in the state. By a vote of 8-3, the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee passed Senate Bill 47. This means that the bill will now be looked at by the whole Senate.
If the bill passes, people with cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions, would be able to get a doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis for medical purposes. The bill doesn’t let patients smoke cannabis, but it does allow the sale of cannabis flower that hasn’t been processed. The bill also lets people use capsules, tinctures, and products that go on the skin contain cannabis.
SB 47 gives the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services the job of writing and putting into effect the rules that will make the law work and control the making and selling of medical marijuana in the state. Under the bill, Kentucky’s program for using cannabis for medical purposes would start in January 2025.
Medical Marijuana Bills Were Passed by The Kentucky House of Representatives
Since 2020, the Kentucky House of Representatives has passed bills to make medical marijuana legal twice. However, the state Senate has not passed any of the bills. At the hearing on Tuesday, Republican Sen. Stephen West, who is one of the bill’s more than a dozen sponsors, said that it was time for the legislature to come to a decision.
“A few years ago, a constituent told me a personal story about medical marijuana. This got my attention and started the process of writing this piece of legislation,” West told his committee colleagues. “I support this issue, not because it’s important to me, but because I’ve done a lot of research and come to the conclusion that medical cannabis is inherently safe. I think Kentuckians should have as many safe medical care and treatment options as possible.”
Damon Thayer, who is the leader of the Senate Majority on the floor, was one of the eight senators on the committee who voted to move SB 47 forward. Thayer used to be a strong opponent of making medical marijuana legal in Kentucky, but he has recently said that his opinion is changing after hearing from constituents. He told his committee colleagues that he voted “for the sake of those who are suffering.”
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“I don’t change my mind very often,” Thayer said after the committee voted to move the bill forward. “I did on industrial hemp, and I did again today on medical marijuana. I’m just trying to be more understanding as I get older.”
While Thayer said that SB 47 would be read on the Senate floor this week, with the first reading happening on Tuesday afternoon and the second on Wednesday, the bill has not yet been read. But he also said that the House as a whole passing the bill is “not a sure thing.” He said, “I’m not sure we have enough votes on the floor to pass the bill.”
Andy Beshear, the governor of Kentucky, has been a strong supporter of legalizing medical marijuana. Last year, he set up an advisory panel to look into the issue, which found that there was strong public support for legalization. In January, the governor asked again for a bill to legalize medical marijuana to be sent to him by state lawmakers.
SB 47 is one of several bills already introduced this year to change how laws are made about cannabis. Already in 2023, lawmakers in states like Texas, North Carolina, and Iowa, which are known for being conservative, have introduced bills to change the way cannabis is handled.