Lawmakers pass bill to legalize medical cannabis in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. — On the final day of the 2023 legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill to legalize medical cannabis, an effort years in the making. 


What You Need To Know

  • The bill would allow people with certain medical conditions to use, but not smoke, cannabis
  • Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, who sponsored a medical cannabis bill last year that never got a vote in the Senate, said the cannabis must be grown by licensed growers, regulated and tested in Kentucky, with limits on the THC level
  • A representative from The Family Foundation spoke against it in committee Thursday, calling it a “deeply flawed” bill that falls short of previously filed bills on this issue
  • The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for approval

Several supporters were in tears after all but a few lawmakers approved the bill during a House committee meeting earlier in the day. 

The bill would allow people with certain medical conditions to use, but not smoke, cannabis. 

Lawmakers peppered their colleagues with questions and heard testimony from Eric Crawford of Mason County, who told Spectrum News 1 following the vote that he’s been pushing for the legalization of medical cannabis every day for the last 10 years.

Cannabis, he told lawmakers, helped with the pain and spasms that came with injuries suffered in a car accident.

“To find something that works for you and then they tell you you’re a criminal for using it, that’s not cutting it,” said Crawford. “We need your help to make us be safer so we don’t have to use all these pharmaceuticals and opioids. Help us not be criminals.” 

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, who sponsored a medical cannabis bill last year that never got a vote in the Senate, said the cannabis must be grown by licensed growers, regulated and tested in Kentucky, with limits on the THC level. 

“This is not a wink, wink, nod, nod bill,” said Nemes. “We want those who are running, or in this program, to be held accountable when they misbehave. And if they misbehave, they need to go to prison, a Kentucky prison.”

Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill. was one of the few members to vote against the bill in committee. 

“I know that a lot of work has been done on this and I do appreciate this,” she said. “I just don’t think that legislators should be put in the position of approving medication. I have a problem with creating a giant government bureaucracy around one medication.”

The bill passed the Senate earlier this month. 

A representative from The Family Foundation spoke against it in committee Thursday, calling it a “deeply flawed” bill that falls short of previously filed bills on this issue.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.

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