Medical marijuana bill clears Senate

FRANKFORT, Ky. — For the first time in the Commonwealth, a majority of state senators are in agreement on legalizing medical marijuana.


What You Need To Know

  • Senate Bill 47 passed in the Senate Thursday night
  • The bill now heads to the House for consideration after the veto break
  • Gov. Beshear is expected to sign the bill if it clears both chambers
  • SB 47 would allow people with certain medical conditions to use marijuana, but not smoke it

Senator Stephen West (R-Paris)’s Senate Bill 47 passed with a 26-11 vote Thursday evening. The bill now heads to the House, where it still needs multiple readings before it can be passed. Republican leadership in the House believes they have enough support for its passage on the last day of the session.

SB 47 would allow people with certain medical conditions, like PTSD, cancer, chronic pain or epilepsy, to treat their illness with cannabis.

Patients could not grow or smoke cannabis, though. If passed, SB 47 would go into effect in July 2024. 

“It was never going to be perfect, but with passage we’re moving down the road, we’re moving forward,” West said. 

People using marijuana to treat their chronic illnesses ultimately led Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) to vote yes.

“Why did you change your mind? One word, compassion,” Thayer said. 

Among the eleven no votes was Senator Gary Boswell (R-Owensboro).

“First, this product is a violation of federal law,” Boswell said. “It’s a drug, not a medicine. In the end, it’s about this, money.”

Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) also voted no.

“I just believe the cons outweigh the pros,” Stivers said. 

Lawmakers will return to Frankfort the remaining two days of the legislative session on March 29.

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