Big news coming from Kentucky! Hooray!
On Thursday, March 17th, 2022, The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Next up, the legislation heads to the Senate.
This measure was sponsored by Representative Jason Nemes (R) and was taken by the full chamber last week after clearing the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 15-1. Meanwhile, separate adult-use and medical legalization bills were filed by Democratic lawmakers last month.
The vote on the floor was 59-34. “This is Kentucky grown, Kentucky processed, Kentucky tested,” Nemes said ahead of the vote. “Grown by Kentucky farmers on Kentucky land with Kentucky seeds for our Kentucky brothers and sisters and the Kentucky patients from across the Commonwealth” (Marijuana Moment).
Nemes has been working on this for some time and is finally getting to see it come to life. He filed a medical legalization bill in 2020 that passed the House. Unfortunatley, it later died in the Senate without a vote during the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Moving forward into 2021, he reintroduced the legislation for the 2021 session but it did not go any futher. Since then, Nemes has been putting in the work. He has been focused on working to build support and recently earned the endorsement of Senate Judiciary Chairman Whitney Westerfield (R). Westerfield said he “will back the House bill despite personal reservations about marijuana reform because he’s heard from constituents who stand to benefit from the treatment option” (Marijuana Moment).
HB 136 would establish a pretty restrictive program that prohibits both the growing at home and the smoking of cannabis flower. Whole-plant products would be allowed under the bill, but patients would be required to vaporize them. The qualifying conditions for usage of medical marijuana will include “cancer, epilepsy and seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, chronic nausea and cyclical vomiting and chronic, severe, intractable or debilitating pain”. “The companion legislation—SB 186 and HB 521—is dubbed LETT’s Grow, an acronym built of the bills’ main components: Legalizing sales, expunging crimes, treatment through medical use and taxing of adult-use sale” (Marijuana Moment).
Thankfully, the Governor of Kentucky supports the legalization. Late last year he mentioned that it’s “time we joined so many other states in doing the right thing.” A poll released in 2020 found that nine out of 10 Kentucky residents support legalizing medical marijuana, and almost 60 percent say cannabis should be legal under “any circumstances” (Marijuana Moment).
We know the road to legalization is not an easy one. Kentucky brings our country one step closer to the goal of cannabis being available to all of those who use it and need it for the benefits. We look forward to seeing how this plays out in the Senate. Best of luck, Kentucky! If you are interested in reading more about Kentucky’s journey to becoming legal, click here to read the article.
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