The medical cannabis legalization bill in Kentucky passed through the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee on Tuesday and will advance next to the full chamber, WKMS reports. The committee added just one amendment to the measure, allowing employers to “conduct assessments of impairment of an employee” with a medical cannabis card.
The measure would not allow patients to access smokable products but permits edible and concentrates. If approved by both legislative chambers, the bill would take effect on January 1, 2025.
Senate Majority Floor leader Damon Thayer (R), a longtime opponent of medical cannabis legalization in the state, voted in favor of the measure, but described the move as a “tough vote.” He added that he was unsure if the legislation had enough votes to pass the full chamber.
“I’m very concerned about the lack of science. But this was not a recreational bill. I’m just trying to show a little empathy and sympathy in my old age.” — Thayer via WKMS
Senate President Robert Stivers (R) has also opposed medical cannabis legalization; however, he indicated earlier this year he would support medical cannabis use in end-of-life circumstances, the report says.
Medical cannabis legalization has been a legislative priority for Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who last year, via executive order, legalized the possession of cannabis by some individuals suffering from severe medical conditions. Those reforms took effect on January 1 and allow patients with a medical provider’s statement to possess up to eight ounces of cannabis for medical purposes if purchased legally in another state. Kentucky borders three states with medical cannabis programs – Illinois, Ohio, and West Virginia – but neither Ohio nor West Virginia allow medical cannabis access to non-residents.
Medical cannabis legalization passed the House in both 2020 and 2022 but died in the Senate. Both chambers must approve the bill before the state session ends at the end of the month.
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