The Kentucky Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee is set to hear a proposed medical cannabis bill today – the first time any Senate committee will take up medical cannabis legislation, WHAS11 reports. State Sen. Steve West (R), the bill’s primary sponsor, told WHAS11 that he thinks he has the votes in the full senate to pass the measure.
“And just the fact that we’re getting a hearing is a big deal. … I’ve been working on this for a long time. It seems like every year, there’s positive movement forward. And so this is just the next step.” — West to WHAS11
West added that he’s made “hundreds, if not thousands” of changes to the bill over the years in an effort to get it approved by the chamber. One of those changes included tasking program administration to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and not the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
“If leadership wanted to kill it, they definitely could have assigned it to a committee that may be less friendly,” West said, “And they haven’t done so.”
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 Jan. 1, 2025. Medical cannabis legislation has passed the House in the past but has always died in the Senate. The state’s session ends at the end of the month, so it is expected to head to the Senate floor fairly quickly if approved by the committee, 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 January 1, and allow individuals 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.
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