Kentucky House Passes Medical Cannabis Bill

Kentucky’s GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted 59-64 to pass a bill giving patients with certain severe illnesses access to a state medical cannabis program.

Full story after the jump.

The Republican-controlled Kentucky House on Thursday passed a medical cannabis bill that would allow would allow patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic nausea, and post-traumatic stress disorder to access the program, the Associated Press reports.

Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the measure was drafted “tighter” than he’d prefer in hopes of getting approval from his GOP colleagues. The proposal includes “home rule” provisions that would allow county fiscal courts or commissions to vote on prohibiting medical cannabis operations but cities in those counties would have the option to allow it, the report says. The bill also does not allow smokeable forms of cannabis.

Republican state Rep. Chris Fugate was one of 34 lawmakers to oppose the law.

“The common denominator of 99.9% of the drug addiction problem in America started with marijuana,” he claimed in an interview with the AP.

The measure has won over some critics, including Republican Sen. Whitney Whitfield who previously 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 would support the reforms.

“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 in a March 8 statement posted to Twitter. “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.”

A similar bill passed the House in 2020 but was never taken up by the Senate. The measure will likely need to pass through the chamber’s Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Whitney. The measure passed the House with the support of 59 representatives.

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