The Kentucky House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a Republican-sponsored medical cannabis bill which has the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, who previously opposed the reforms, WFPL reports. A similar bill was passed by the House in 2020 but was never taken up by the Senate.
State Rep. Jason Nemes, the bill’s sponsor, said he opposes adult-use reforms but that “the debate is over, with respect to whether or not medical cannabis helps people.”
“I don’t think there’s anybody, even the staunchest opponents, who say it doesn’t help some people.” – Nemes via WFPL
In a statement posted to Twitter, Westerfield said that while he has concerns about “the risk of increased access” to cannabis among youth and young adults and the “precedent” of ignoring federal law, he’s ready to support medical cannabis access in Kentucky.
“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,” he said. “I imagine what sons have done to obtain marijuana for their dying mothers, or what parents have done for a child struggling with a severe seizure disorder.”
The bill does not allow smokable forms of cannabis but would permit patients with multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, and nausea to access cannabis products. State Rep. Kim Moser (R) was the lone ‘no’ vote on passing the bill, which was approved by a 15-1 vote.
“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,” she said during the debate.
A 2019 poll from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky found 90% of Kentuckians support medical cannabis reforms in the state, including 95 percent of Democrats, 92 percent of independents, and 90 percent of Republicans.
The bill moves next to the full House for consideration.
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