Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee Meets

The Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee met for the first time on Monday to discuss their responsibilities and two upcoming town hall meetings.

The first town hall meeting is set for July 6, in Pikeville, Kentucky. The meeting will be in the University of Pikeville’s Health Professions Education Building.

The second town hall meeting is slated for July 19 at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in Frankfort.

Both are scheduled to run 90 minutes. Two additional meetings will be scheduled at a later date.

The committee will travel around the state, gathering opinions on the medical cannabis issue and provide feedback to the governor’s office.

Gov. Andy Beshear created the committee last week through an executive order. The 17-member board is composed of attorneys, university professors, medical cannabis advocates, members of law enforcement, and health care professionals.

Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet Ray Perry and Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Kerry Harvey were named co-chairs of the panel.

Members will serve on the committee for two years, according to the executive order.

“We start with a committee of people that really bring a wide array of experience and expertise to the project,” Harvey told The Courier Journal. “You have medical people, pharmacy people, you have people that know a lot about substance abuse disorders, and you have people with very deep experience in law enforcement and prosecution. The committee itself can provide a great deal of useful information.”

The goal of the group, according to Harvey and Beshear’s office, is to listen to the people of Kentucky and bring their perspectives on medical cannabis back to the governor and other officials.

“Our plan is to go to different parts of the state and really just to have open town hall meetings so that anyone who is interested or concerned about this issue can provide the committee and ultimately the governor with not only their point of view, but their experience,” Harvey said.

For those unable to attend the town hall meetings, Beshear’s office created a website for users to submit their thoughts on medical cannabis.

In his executive order, Beshear said, “Allowing Kentuckians diagnosed with certain medical conditions and receiving palliative care to cultivate, purchase, possess and/or use medical cannabis would improve the quality of their lives and may help reduce abuse of other more dangerous and addictive medications, such as opioids.”

Overdose deaths in Kentucky have risen dramatically in recent years—2,250 deaths were reported in 2021, as stated by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, compared to 1,316 in 2019.

“It would also improve Kentucky’s economy by bringing new jobs and businesses to the Commonwealth, as well as supporting Kentucky farmers,” Beshear continued.

A total of 38 other states have already legalized medical cannabis, including Ohio—which, earlier this year, reported that its medical cannabis program had generated about $725 million in revenue.

Earlier attempts to legalize medical cannabis in Kentucky occurred in 2020 and 2022.

In 2020, a bill led by Rep. Jason Nemes (R) received 65 votes in the House chamber but stalled in the Senate due to a lack of support by Republican members and a shortened session due to COVID-19.

In March of this year, the Kentucky House of Representatives voted 59-34 to pass a medical cannabis bill, HB 136. Senate leadership stalled this effort soon thereafter.

In April, Beshear approved legislation to establish a cannabis research center at the University of Kentucky. According to HB 604, the new facility will be tasked with planning and conducting research “to advance the study of the use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives for the treatment of certain medical conditions and diseases.”

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NBA’s Montrezl Harrell Busted With Three Pounds of Weed

NBA forward Montrezl Harrell is facing felony drug charges after police discovered three pounds of weed during a traffic stop in Kentucky last month. Harrell, who plays for the Charlotte Hornets, was scheduled to appear in court to answer the charges filed in Madison County, Kentucky on Monday but the arraignment hearing has been delayed until next month, court records show.

According to a police report cited by the Charlotte Observer, Harrell was driving a rented 2020 Honda Pilot southbound on I-75 on the morning of May 12 when he was pulled over by a Kentucky state trooper for following too closely behind the vehicle in front of him. In the report, Trooper Jesse Owens wrote that after stopping Harrell’s vehicle, he “observed” the odor of marijuana. The citation also notes that Harrell “admitted to being in possession of marijuana and produced a small amount from his sweatpants.” Law enforcement officers then searched the vehicle Harrell was driving. During the search, the trooper discovered “three pounds of marijuana in vacuum sealed bags” in a backpack that was found on the back seat of the vehicle, according to the traffic citation.

Harrell has been charged with trafficking less than five pounds of marijuana. Under Kentucky state law, possession of more than eight ounces but less than five pounds of marijuana is classified as a Class D felony for the first offense. Those convicted of the charge are subject to a sentence of one to five years behind bars and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

The Charlotte Hornets have declined to comment on Harrell’s case, according to multiple media reports.

8-Year NBA Career

Harrell, a North Carolina native, is in his eighth season with the NBA. He played NCAA Division 1 college basketball in Kentucky for the University of Louisville Cardinals, where he averaged 11.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game. As a freshman, he played on the Cardinals’ 2013 national championship team, although the title was later taken away by the league for NCAA violations.

In June 2015, Harrell was chosen by the Houston Rockets in the second round of the NBA draft, the 32nd pick overall. On September 19, 2015, he signed a three-year contract with the Rockets and made his NBA debut with the team in the season’s opening game against the Denver Nuggets on October 28, scoring eight points and pulling down three rebounds. Harrell made his first career start with the NBA on November 13, playing 13 minutes of game time and sinking five points in the Rockets’ defeat of the Denver Nuggets. During his rookie season, he was assigned to the Rockets D-league affiliate the Rio Valley Grande Vipers several times.

In June 2017, the Los Angeles Clippers traded Chris Paul to the Rockets, acquiring Harrell, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer and a 2018 Houston first-round draft pick in the deal. In September 2020, Harrell was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, an award given by the league for the season’s best bench player. That season, the Clippers went to the playoffs, losing in seven games against the Denver Nuggets. Harrell averaged 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in the playoffs that saw the Nuggets advance after starting the series down three games to one.

Harrell signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on November 22, 2020, making his debut with the team one month later and logging 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists against his former team and Lakers’ crosstown rival the Clippers. In August 2021, Harrell was traded to the Washington Wizards as part of a deal for Russell Westbrook. In February of this year, he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets, scoring 15 points and six rebounds in his team debut on February 11. Harrell is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the NBA’s new league year begins in July.

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Can Kentucky’s Governor Legalize Cannabis —And What About President Biden?

Partly the South, partly the Midwest, Kentucky is an increasingly unique anachronism: one of the just 14 states left in the country who won’t legalize cannabis—medical nor adult-use. This remains so despite the state House passing a bill legalizing medical cannabis for sick people earlier this year.

To solve this impasse, Gov. Andy Beshear has vowed to take action into his own hands. One of only two Democrats in statewide office in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state, in April, Beshear promised to bypass the obstructionist state legislature and take executive action to legalize medical marijuana—if that’s what it takes, and if he has the constitutional authority to do so, questions he hopes to sort out as soon as this summer.

Those are big ifs indeed. And they lead to another, even larger if: if Beshear decides to go ahead and legalize cannabis by fiat, and if other chief executives around the country are similarly inspired and follow suit—couldn’t President Biden do the same and simply legalize cannabis nationwide with a stroke of his pen?

It’s an interesting question of both constitutional law as well as practical politics—and the answer isn’t as straightforward as some legalization advocates might like. It’s some combination of, “maybe, sort of, not really—and it’s probably not what you actually want, anyway.”

State of Exception

Beshear’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment and for any updates on his thinking or his timeline. But according to at least one observer—Jim Higdon, the co-founder of Cornbread Hemp, a Kentucky-based hemp company and the son of a longtime state lawmaker, who authored an opinion column in the Cincinnati Enquirer about this very subject—Beshear can absolutely tell statewide police to stand down and to compel state lawmakers to come into work, and make them look like do-nothing clowns if (or when) they don’t.

As Higdon points out, like most everywhere else, medical cannabis is popular in Kentucky. Yet the citizens don’t have access due to the undemocratic action of a powerful state lawmaker, state Senate President Robert Stivers, who refused to let the House bill even stand a floor vote in the Senate.

Stivers has already publicly said he believes Beshear cannot legalize cannabis by executive action. However, as Hidgon notes, Beshear could absolutely ground Kentucky State Police helicopters, and limit law enforcement’s ability to enforce any prohibitions on medical cannabis, thus bringing about de facto legalization.

Legal experts contacted by Cannabis Now agree with this analysis. Beshear can’t legalize cannabis by himself, but he can make it less illegal—or, more accurately, he can discourage enforcement of the law, to the point where it doesn’t matter much what laws about legal marijuana are on the books.

“The simple answer is, there’s absolutely nothing a governor can do on his or her own to legalize something that the state legislature has made illegal,” said Douglas Berman, a professor of law at the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and the executive director of the school’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.

“What he can do is use a variety of tools at his disposal to no longer enforce the law,” he added, though even that would be a significant step: to Berman’s knowledge, an American governor has never instructed state law enforcement to stand down in this way.

However, it’d be broadly consistent with how police already operate: using discretion to decide when and where it’s feasible and practical to enforce the law. Take a tailgate at, say, a University of Kentucky Wildcats football game. Chances are such events are full of college students under 21 drinking alcohol—that is, flagrant and ongoing violations of the law. Yet little action is taken to stop this, and with good reason: Who cares?

Politics and Patients

If Beshear were to do this, the act may be more political than legal. Let’s say Beshear did take action. Then let’s say police and prosecutors went rogue and refused (whoever heard of such a thing?) such an executive action. Even if they did, Beshear would be putting voters on notice that it’s certain lawmakers who are preventing them from accessing a very popular product that has proven medical benefits. That, in turn, would make the next gubernatorial contest a de-facto referendum on cannabis, which it’s already shaping up to be.

Beshear is up for reelection in 2023. His top challenger thus far seems to be Daniel Cameron, the Republican state attorney general. A right-wing Black man who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump (and who was supposedly on Trump’s short list of Supreme Court nominees), Cameron has already gone on record saying he opposes medical marijuana.

If cannabis is as popular as all the polls tell us, that could blow up in his face. Either way, observers fully expect cannabis to become a major issue in the next governor’s race—an issue that Beshear has the power to force in various ways, even if he doesn’t have the constitutional power to wave his smartphone like a magic wand and make legal marijuana a reality in Kentucky.

OK, so what about POTUS? In this case, scholars say, whatever President Biden could do is still less expansive than what Congress could do—and what’s within Biden’s power probably isn’t what you even want.

Executive Legalization isn’t Really Legalization

A more popular question in the days before serious senators endorsed federal cannabis legalization, presidential executive action on legal marijuana has been studied to death, but it bears repeating here: according to the Congressional Research Service, though the president can tell Congress to do something, and though he can appoint legalization-friendly officers in key offices such as the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services and tell them to legalize, “it doesn’t appear that the President could directly deschedule or reschedule marijuana by executive order.”

And, as Vanderbilt University law professor Robert Mikos argued in a 2021 essay published in the University of Cincinnati Law Journal, any executive action on cannabis is likely to trigger both legal challenges in the courts as well as an uncomfortable discussion about presidential power. Given Biden’s love of our cherished norms and institutional traditions, the current president seems highly unlikely to buck convention.

And you might not want him to.

You may have noticed that while federal law bans legal marijuana in all its forms and for all functions, neither Drug Enforcement Administration agents nor the 101st Airborne Division are breaking into the country’s thousands of legal cannabis businesses to put a stop to the many and continuous violations of federal law.

Presidential action might amount to rescheduling or descheduling, which would be a much more modest step than proposals in Congress such as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act. Imagine a world in which pharmaceutical companies only have dominion over cannabis, and where old convictions are still on the books. That’s more possible in an executive action scenario than wall-to-wall cannabis legalization—which, by the way, wouldn’t alter state laws such as Kentucky’s.

Either way, with Congress still stuck in obstruction precisely like the Kentucky legislature, yet undeniably closer to cannabis legalization than even in the recent past, a Biden executive order might commit the sin of doing too little when much more is within reach.

“It’s not wrong to say that small wins sometimes slow momentum for big wins or even reverse progress,” OSU’s Berman said. Legalization may have to just sit and wait until tides turn, in Kentucky and elsewhere. At least that’s where they’re trending.

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Kentucky Governor Approves Cannabis Research Facility

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear on Tuesday approved the creation of a cannabis research facility in the state, although he used his veto power to strike selected passages of the legislation. Beshear’s approval of the measure, House Bill 604, comes one week after the Democratic governor said he would take steps to legalize medical cannabis in the Bluegrass State.

Under the legislation, the Kentucky Center for Cannabis Research would be established at the University of Kentucky. The new facility would be tasked with planning and conducting research “to advance the study of the use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives for the treatment of certain medical conditions and diseases,” according to the text of the statute.

The university has already conducted some research into cannabis and has an established relationship with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The bill also requires the center to apply for approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to cultivate cannabis and codifies eligibility requirements for individuals interested in participating in clinical cannabis research.

The legislation was passed by the Kentucky legislature earlier this month during the waning days of the legislative session. The bill received overwhelming approval from lawmakers after the state Senate failed to approve House Bill 136, a medical cannabis legalization bill that had been passed by the House of Representatives

“This convenes researchers and scholars from across the state on this issue so we can reduce bottlenecks in the research and regulatory processes,” GOP Representative Kimberly Poore Moser, the sponsor of the legislation, said about House Bill 604 last month. “Our goal is to figure out what conditions cannabis can treat, and by doing so, make Kentucky a national leader in research, since only one other university has a similar program.”

Beshear Uses Line-Item Veto

Beshear used his line-item veto power to strike portions of the bill he did not support. The governor approved the legislative language authorizing the creation of the center, but removed other sections including provisions he said limited the purpose of the center and the powers of the university president to appoint its advisory board.

“I am vetoing these parts because they limit the purpose of the center and dictate who the president of the University of Kentucky should consider appointing to the advisory board after giving the president of the university sole appointing power,” Beshear wrote in his veto message.

“I am also vetoing these parts because ongoing appropriations may be necessary,” he added.

Because the state legislature has adjourned for the legislative session, Beshear’s line-item vetoes will stand and cannot be overridden by lawmakers.

Earlier this month, Beshear said that he would explore taking executive action to advance the legalization of medical pot in Kentucky if lawmakers failed to pass House Bill 136. After the bill died in the state Senate, the governor released a plan last week to get medicinal cannabis to patients who need it. 

“If they are not going to take action—not even give it a committee hearing in the Senate—then I believe it’s my obligation to see what’s possible given the will of the people and their desire to move forward on this,” Besear said. “It’s time to certainly move the conversation forward.”

“Would I have preferred if the legislature had passed it?” Beshear asked. “Yes. But they didn’t.”

Beshear added that he has directed his general counsel to provide advice about what executive actions can be taken to move the medical cannabis process along without the approval of lawmakers. He also said that he would appoint a medical cannabis advisory panel to hold meetings across Kentucky to get residents’ input on the issue. The governor’s office has also established an email account (GovMedicalCannabisAdvisoryTeam@ky.gov) so that residents who are unable to attend the public hearings in person can still provide input.

But Republican lawmakers balked at Beshear’s plan to take unilateral action on medical cannabis legalization. Kentucky state Senate President Robert Stivers said that such action would likely be unconstitutional.

“The public should be concerned with a governor who thinks he can change statute by executive order,” Stivers said. “He simply can’t legalize medical marijuana by executive order; you can’t supersede a statute by executive order because it’s a Constitutional separation of powers violation.”

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Kentucky Lawmakers Concerned Over Governor’s Talk of Executive Action on Medical Cannabis

Republican lawmakers in Kentucky want Gov. Andy Beshear to pump the brakes on recent suggestions that he could legalize medical cannabis via executive action.

A legislative push to authorize the treatment in the Bluegrass State has dried up in recent weeks, prompting the first term Democrat to say that he plans to explore what steps he could take to get the measure over the finish line.

But members of Kentucky’s GOP-dominated legislature are saying: “Not so fast!”

In a sternly worded statement last week, Kentucky state Senate President Robert Stivers admonished Beshear, saying that such action would be unconstitutional.

“The public should be concerned with a governor who thinks he can change statute by executive order,” Stivers said. “He simply can’t legalize medical marijuana by executive order; you can’t supersede a statute by executive order because it’s a Constitutional separation of powers violation.”

Other lawmakers accused the Democratic governor of “giving Kentuckians false hope,” according to local television station WDRB.

“I thought something was coming, to the extent that it’s an effort to bring more information to the subject, to use the Governor’s bully pulpit to push the issue forward, I’m fully supportive,” said GOP state House Rep. Jason Nemes, as quoted by WDRB. “I appreciate the Governor’s sentiment on this, I agree with him 100%.”

“I want to have words of caution there. I have had a lot of advocates contact me and ask me if this is possible, can this happen. They are hopeful. They just want to be and feel better,” Nemes continued. “The answer is ‘no’ the Governor does not have the authority to legalize medicinal cannabis in Kentucky. I wish he did. If he did, I would be heralding it from the rooftops because this is something I believe Kentuckians need.”

Nemes was the sponsor of a medical cannabis bill that passed the Kentucky state House in March.

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes said while promoting the bill during the legislative session. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

But the bill’s prospects have never been exactly bright, with Stivers saying it lacked support in his chamber.

With the bill appearing dead in the water, Beshear was asked by reporters earlier this month if he may be able to get something done through executive actions.

“We’re going to explore that,” Beshear said at the time. “It’s something that we will look at. Its time has certainly come.”

Last week, Beshear ramped up those threats.

“If they are not going to take action—not even give it a committee hearing in the Senate—then I believe it’s my obligation to see what’s possible given the will of the people and their desire to move forward on this,” he said. “It’s time to certainly move the conversation forward.”

Nemes, however, has preached patience in the effort to legalize medical cannabis there.

“This is not something that is going to happen in the next week or month,” Nemes said, as quoted by WDRB. “This has to be a statutory change, and the only way to change a statue is unfortunately through the legislature.”

“It feels like momentum is strongly on our side, that’s because the people of Kentucky have decided, they have looked at this issue and they are for it,” Nemes added, according to the station.

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Kentucky Governor Announces Medical Cannabis Plan

Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear released a plan to make medicinal cannabis available to medical patients, saying that lawmakers have failed to make progress on the issue. Beshear’s announcement comes after the state legislature voted down a medicinal cannabis legalization bill last month.

“Its time has come and it can give some ailing Kentuckians relief,” Beshear said at a news conference, as quoted by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

In March, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed House Bill 136, a bill that would have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis for certain medical conditions and created a regulatory framework for commercial cannabis production and sales. But after the state Senate failed to approve the measure, Beshear said on April 7 that he was considering taking executive action to get medical pot into the hands of patients. On Wednesday, the governor announced a plan to do just that.

“If they are not going to take action—not even give it a committee hearing in the Senate—then I believe it’s my obligation to see what’s possible given the will of the people and their desire to move forward on this,” he said. “It’s time to certainly move the conversation forward.”

“Would I have preferred if the legislature had passed it?” Beshear asked. “Yes. But they didn’t.”

Governor Creates Advisory Panel

Beshear said that he has asked his general counsel for information on what executive actions can be taken to move the medical cannabis process along without the approval of lawmakers. He also said that he would appoint a Governor’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Team to hold meetings across Kentucky to get residents’ input on the issue. The governor’s office has also set up an email account (GovMedicalCannabisAdvisoryTeam@ky.gov) so that residents who are unable to attend the public hearings can provide input.

“I want to be clear: I am for medical cannabis,” Beshear said. “I want it done in the right way, and we’re going to be looking at our legal options very closely. And at the same time, we want to hear from you.”

The GOP-controlled legislature has balked at previous executive orders issued by Beshear and has passed legislation to curtail his use of them. But the governor said that his efforts are motivated by compassion, not politics.

“If you meet a parent who can’t stop their child from having seizures, but they’ve been to another state and this works, they ought to have that opportunity to help that child,” Beshear said.

When asked if Kentucky should legalize recreational cannabis, Beshear said that he is not yet prepared to go that far. But he did say that he supports the decriminalization of cannabis possession.

“Nobody needs to go to jail, ultimately causing them loss of job, being hard on their family, for possession of marijuana,” Beshear said. “And it is very rare that it happens right now. But I think the fact that it continues to happen shows that we’re a little outdated.”

GOP Lawmakers Blast Governor’s Plan

But Republican lawmakers rebuked the governor for his statements. Senate President Robert Stivers said that Beshear does not have the authority to legalize cannabis unilaterally.

“The public should be concerned with a governor who thinks he can change statute by executive order,” Stiver wrote in a statement on Thursday evening. “He simply can’t legalize medical marijuana by executive order; you can’t supersede a statute by executive order because it’s a Constitutional separation of powers violation.”

The Senate president also said that he is opposed to efforts to levy taxes on medicinal cannabis.

“The governor indicated previously he intends to tax marijuana; we don’t tax medicine in Kentucky,” Stiver added. “If our governor truly believes marijuana should be used for medicinal purposes, taxing it would be wholly inappropriate.”

Stiver went on to note that a bill related to cannabis research has been passed by state lawmakers but Beshear has so far failed to sign the measure into law.

“The General Assembly has initiated an effort to conduct additional research on medical marijuana through the passage of HB 604 during this past legislative session,” he wrote. “HB 604 establishes the Kentucky Center for Cannabis Research at the University of Kentucky to research the efficacy of medical cannabis. The Governor may speak in favor of medical marijuana, but he still has not signed HB 604 that has been sitting on his desk since April 14.”

Beshear said that his administration will spend the next two months further developing a plan to legalize medical cannabis through executive action.

“It’s got to be done right,” he said. “And I believe that we have an opportunity to set up the right regulatory framework where we don’t see abuse. And this gives us a chance over the next couple months to be thoughtful. But we will be looking at action and a culmination into some form of action depending on our legal options.”

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Kentucky Governor Says He May Use Executive Order if Medical Cannabis Bill Dies

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that he is considering what he could do to rescue a proposal to legalize medical cannabis that is currently languishing in the state’s general assembly.

The first term Democrat was asked by reporters “if he could potentially issue an executive order making medical marijuana accessible if the bill dies,” the Associated Press reported.

“We’re going to explore that,” Beshear said, as quoted by the news outlet. “It’s something that we will look at. Its time has certainly come.”

Beshear’s comments came nearly a month after the Kentucky House of Representatives easily passed legislation that would legalize medical cannabis in the state for qualified patients.

That measure, sponsored by Republican state House Rep. Jason Nemes, would permit physicians to recommend cannabis treatment to patients with a host of qualifying conditions, such as cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea.

The bill passed the House, where the GOP holds a large majority, by a vote of 59-34.

In his efforts to build support for the bill, Nemes spoke of his experiences talking to patients and doctors.

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes said. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

But the bill has gone nowhere in the state Senate, which is also dominated by Republicans. It is a near identical scenario to 2020, when the Kentucky state House passed a medical cannabis bill only for it to be stymied in the state Senate.

Robert Stivers, the president of the Kentucky state Senate, was skeptical and dismissive of the bill from the start, saying that the legislature was running out of time to tackle legislation of that significance.

According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Stivers “remains opposed to legalizing medical marijuana, saying that while he’s seen research showing marijuana could have a positive effect on patients with spasticity, nausea and joint inflammation, he says those studies had small sample sizes and duration — while he’s seen others showing negative side effects.”

More recently, Stivers has expressed doubt that lawmakers have enough time to get the bill over the line, with the assembly’s 60-day session winding down.

On Thursday, Stivers said “it would be difficult” to pass the bill when lawmakers return for the final two days of the legislative session next week, according to the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reported that Stivers has “touted another pending bill that would create a cannabis research center at the University of Kentucky to study the use of cannabis to treat certain medical conditions.”

“Most definitely, I think there is that desire to help individuals,” Stivers said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “But with any drug, I think you need to have the full-blown studies.”

“That would give us the impetus to come back maybe within a year and say this is what marijuana could be used for or not be used for,” Stivers added, according to the Associated Press.

Enter Beshear, who has been forceful in his advocacy for legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky.

While suggesting on Thursday that he may resort to executive action on the matter, Beshear once again urged lawmakers to deliver a bill to his desk.

“You see people from every part of every spectrum that are in favor of this,” Beshear said, as quoted by the Associated Press.

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Kentucky House Passes Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

The Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to legalize medical cannabis, only one week after the proposal was advanced by a key legislative committee. The measure, House Bill 136, was passed by the House with a vote of 59-34 and will now head to the state Senate for consideration. A similar bill was passed by the House in 2020 but failed to gain a hearing in the state legislature’s upper chamber.

Under the measure from Republican Representative Jason Nemes, patients with one or more specified medical conditions including any type of cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea would be able to receive a recommendation to use cannabis medicinally. The legislation also establishes a regulatory framework to govern medical cannabis cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing laboratories.

On March 10, House Bill 136 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 15-1. In a hearing prior to the vote, Nemes said that the measure would help sick people. He also noted that he is not in favor of legalizing recreational pot and was once opposed to legalizing medical cannabis. But after talking to patients and experts, he has changed his stance on the matter.

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes told the members of the committee. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

Bill Passed After Emotional Debate

Prior to Thursday’s vote, members of the House discussed the bill in a sometimes emotional debate. Representative Al Gentry, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that he has personal experience with patients who have successfully used cannabis medicinally.

“I know real people that had their lives turned around by these products, and a lot of them are living in the closet or living in secrecy because they feel like they’re a criminal,” he said, as quoted by the McDowell News.

“Please, let’s pass this and allow some people to move on and live a happy life,” Gentry added.

The bill would establish four types of regulated medical weed businesses including cannabis farmers, processors, dispensaries, and safety testers. During Thursday’s debate, Nemes stressed to his colleagues that the legislation would create a new local economy for the Bluegrass State, saying the venture would be “Kentucky grown, Kentucky processed, Kentucky tested.”

Opponents of the bill expressed fears that permitting medical cannabis in Kentucky will lead to the legalization of recreational cannabis and public health problems, with some referencing the thoroughly debunked “gateway drug” theory. Republican Representative Chris Fugate took hyperbolic reefer madness to a new level, saying that the “common denominator of 99.9 percent of the drug addiction problem in America started with marijuana.”

“I didn’t come to Frankfort for liquor, for gambling, or for marijuana,” Fugate added. “I came here to stand against it.”

“We are asking as a body to go on emotion rather than a legal standpoint,” said Representative Matt Lockett, who voted against the bill. “Our federal government has said that marijuana is against the law.”

Bill Gets Support of Key Senator

Earlier this month, House Bill 136 gained the support of Senator Whitney Westerfield, the Senate Judiciary Committee chair. Although he expressed concerns over the possible recreational use of cannabis by young people, Westerfield said in a social media post that he would support the legislation.

“I also have concerns about the precedent we’re setting by ignoring federal law,” Westerfield wrote in a statement on Twitter. “However, I’ve heard too many stories, in my district and out, from those long suffering and their loved ones left behind, that marijuana brought comfort and relief when nothing else worked.”

Nemes told reporters that receiving Westerfield’s support improves the bill’s chances of getting a vote from the full Senate.

“It will go over to the Senate, it will be assigned to his committee and when you have the chairman in support that’s massive and so that’s why Whitney’s support is a game-changer,” Nemes said.

Unlike the last time the Kentucky House approved a medical pot legalization bill, House Bill 136 is expected to be scheduled for a hearing in the state Senate with Westerfield on board. Nemes is hopeful the measure will fare better this year.

“I don’t know what the numbers are exactly in the Senate, but I have been meeting with senators one on one and I feel really strong about the chances when we go over to the Senate,” Nemes said earlier this month.

If the bill is successful in the Kentucky Senate, it will head to the desk of Republican Governor Andy Beshear, who has expressed support for medical cannabis legalization.

The post Kentucky House Passes Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Kentucky Lawmakers Advance Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

A Kentucky legislative committee voted on Thursday to advance a bill to legalize medical cannabis two days after the legislation gained the endorsement of a key state senator. The measure, House Bill 136, was passed with strong bipartisan support by the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 15-1.

Under the measure from Republican Representative Jason Nemes, patients with one or more specified medical conditions would be able to receive a recommendation to use cannabis medicinally. Qualifying conditions to use medical cannabis include multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy and nausea. Nemes told his colleagues that the bill would help sick people.

“I think the debate is over, with respect to whether or not medical cannabis helps people,” Nemes said. “I don’t think there’s anybody, even the staunchest opponents, who say it doesn’t help some people.”

The legislation also establishes a regulatory framework to govern medical cannabis cultivators, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories. The Kentucky House of Representatives passed similar legislation in 2020 but the bill failed to gain the approval of the state Senate.

At Thursday’s committee hearing, Nemes said that he is not in favor of legalizing recreational weed and was once opposed to legalizing medical cannabis. But after talking to patients and experts, he has changed his stance on the issue.

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes told his colleagues on the committee. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

Kentucky Lawmakers Hear from Medical Cannabis Patient

The committee heard from Eric Crawford, who was paralyzed in a 1994 auto collision. He testified that cannabis has successfully treated symptoms that pharmaceuticals were unable to help.

“Medical cannabis relaxes my continuous uncontrollable muscle spasms. Medical cannabis relieves my constant chronic pain. Cannabis helps me,” he said. “Medical cannabis allows me to be a more productive member of society and gives me a better quality of life. It allows me to be a better husband, son and friend than the pharmaceutical allowed.”

Crawford also told lawmakers that he felt his state was letting him down by failing to approve a medicine that works for him.

“We all deserve legal access to a safe product without fear of the law,” he added. “Don’t make sick people criminals.”

Nemes acknowledged that the bill has provisions that will result in a tightly restrictive medical cannabis program, including a limited list of qualifying medical conditions and measures that allow local governments to opt out of legalization. The legislation also prohibits smoking cannabis. Nemes said the bill is “tighter” than he would have preferred to help gain support for the legislation among conservative lawmakers. Both the Kentucky House and Senate are led by a Republican majority.

Democratic Representative Nima Kulkarni, who voted for the bill, said that the measure should include restorative justice provisions such as the expungement of weed-related convictions, and said, “People are sitting in jail potentially, or have convictions on their records on this, but we are letting some people benefit from the medical efficacy of cannabis.”

Representative Chad McCoy, a Republican from Bard, also voted in favor of House Bill 136 but said that the legislation does not go far enough.

“I know what you’ve got to do to get a bill across the line, but I hate this bill, I think it’s too restrictive, I think it’s too narrow, I think it’s too much government,” McCoy said.

The only lawmaker to vote against the bill, GOP Representative Kim Moser, said that the measure would result in excessive government bureaucracy. She also said that more research on the medical efficacy of cannabis is needed.

“If the FDA would take a stand on this and actually make it a medicine like they do any other natural product, then we wouldn’t have to change 39 statutes and create this bureaucracy,” Moser said.

Key Senator Endorses Bill

On Tuesday, HB 136 gained the endorsement of Republican Senator Whitney Westerfield, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although he expressed reservations over potential recreational use of cannabis by young people, Westerfield said in a social media post that he would support the bill.

“I also have concerns about the precedent we’re setting by ignoring federal law,” Westerfield wrote in a statement on Twitter. “However, I’ve heard too many stories, in my district and out, from those long suffering and their loved ones left behind, that marijuana brought comfort and relief when nothing else worked.”

Nemes told reporters that receiving Westerfield’s support improves the bill’s chances of getting a vote from the full Senate.

“It will go over to the Senate, it will be assigned to his committee and when you have the chairman in support that’s massive and so that’s why Whitney’s support is a game-changer,” Nemes said.

HB 136 will now be taken up by the full House, where a vote on the measure could occur as soon as next week, according to Nemes. Last month, a trio of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would legalize both medical and adult-use cannabis in Kentucky.

The post Kentucky Lawmakers Advance Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.

Kentucky Lawmakers Advance Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

A Kentucky legislative committee voted on Thursday to advance a bill to legalize medical cannabis two days after the legislation gained the endorsement of a key state senator. The measure, House Bill 136, was passed with strong bipartisan support by the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 15-1.

Under the measure from Republican Representative Jason Nemes, patients with one or more specified medical conditions would be able to receive a recommendation to use cannabis medicinally. Qualifying conditions to use medical cannabis include multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy and nausea. Nemes told his colleagues that the bill would help sick people.

“I think the debate is over, with respect to whether or not medical cannabis helps people,” Nemes said. “I don’t think there’s anybody, even the staunchest opponents, who say it doesn’t help some people.”

The legislation also establishes a regulatory framework to govern medical cannabis cultivators, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories. The Kentucky House of Representatives passed similar legislation in 2020 but the bill failed to gain the approval of the state Senate.

At Thursday’s committee hearing, Nemes said that he is not in favor of legalizing recreational weed and was once opposed to legalizing medical cannabis. But after talking to patients and experts, he has changed his stance on the issue.

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes told his colleagues on the committee. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

Kentucky Lawmakers Hear from Medical Cannabis Patient

The committee heard from Eric Crawford, who was paralyzed in a 1994 auto collision. He testified that cannabis has successfully treated symptoms that pharmaceuticals were unable to help.

“Medical cannabis relaxes my continuous uncontrollable muscle spasms. Medical cannabis relieves my constant chronic pain. Cannabis helps me,” he said. “Medical cannabis allows me to be a more productive member of society and gives me a better quality of life. It allows me to be a better husband, son and friend than the pharmaceutical allowed.”

Crawford also told lawmakers that he felt his state was letting him down by failing to approve a medicine that works for him.

“We all deserve legal access to a safe product without fear of the law,” he added. “Don’t make sick people criminals.”

Nemes acknowledged that the bill has provisions that will result in a tightly restrictive medical cannabis program, including a limited list of qualifying medical conditions and measures that allow local governments to opt out of legalization. The legislation also prohibits smoking cannabis. Nemes said the bill is “tighter” than he would have preferred to help gain support for the legislation among conservative lawmakers. Both the Kentucky House and Senate are led by a Republican majority.

Democratic Representative Nima Kulkarni, who voted for the bill, said that the measure should include restorative justice provisions such as the expungement of weed-related convictions, and said, “People are sitting in jail potentially, or have convictions on their records on this, but we are letting some people benefit from the medical efficacy of cannabis.”

Representative Chad McCoy, a Republican from Bard, also voted in favor of House Bill 136 but said that the legislation does not go far enough.

“I know what you’ve got to do to get a bill across the line, but I hate this bill, I think it’s too restrictive, I think it’s too narrow, I think it’s too much government,” McCoy said.

The only lawmaker to vote against the bill, GOP Representative Kim Moser, said that the measure would result in excessive government bureaucracy. She also said that more research on the medical efficacy of cannabis is needed.

“If the FDA would take a stand on this and actually make it a medicine like they do any other natural product, then we wouldn’t have to change 39 statutes and create this bureaucracy,” Moser said.

Key Senator Endorses Bill

On Tuesday, HB 136 gained the endorsement of Republican Senator Whitney Westerfield, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although he expressed reservations over potential recreational use of cannabis by young people, Westerfield said in a social media post that he would support the bill.

“I also have concerns about the precedent we’re setting by ignoring federal law,” Westerfield wrote in a statement on Twitter. “However, I’ve heard too many stories, in my district and out, from those long suffering and their loved ones left behind, that marijuana brought comfort and relief when nothing else worked.”

Nemes told reporters that receiving Westerfield’s support improves the bill’s chances of getting a vote from the full Senate.

“It will go over to the Senate, it will be assigned to his committee and when you have the chairman in support that’s massive and so that’s why Whitney’s support is a game-changer,” Nemes said.

HB 136 will now be taken up by the full House, where a vote on the measure could occur as soon as next week, according to Nemes. Last month, a trio of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would legalize both medical and adult-use cannabis in Kentucky.

The post Kentucky Lawmakers Advance Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill appeared first on High Times.