Kentucky residents who are suffering from certain medical conditions may soon be allowed to turn to cannabis as a treatment option. This is because a bill seeking to legalize medical cannabis has acquired support and was officially submitted to the House of Representatives this week.
House Bill 166’s primary sponsor is Democratic Rep. John Sims, while its cosponsor is Rep. Alan Gentry. According to Sims, he stands behind the bill because studies and research show that the use of medical cannabis is effective in treating certain medical conditions.
The 65-page new legislation would make smoking, growing, and ingesting cannabis legal as long as a patient has a prescription and as long as the sales and production of medical cannabis products are still regulated by a relevant state agency.
House Bill 166 would allow patients suffering from terminal illnesses, diabetes, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions to obtain prescriptions for medical weed. The legislation also stipulates that patients can grow up to 12 cannabis plants and possess up to 12 seedlings.
The measure would establish a three-tiered system of growers, distributor, and retailers, called the Cannabis Enforcement Program. The program will be set up within and monitored by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, together with some members of the medical cannabis task force, unveiled the bill in a press conference on Thursday. Sims and Grimes’ task force includes selected members of the state’s medical community, including doctors, medical administrators, nurses, as well as representatives from state agencies with regulatory oversight, law enforcement bodies, military veterans, and medical cannabis advocates.
According to Grimes, they have heard real, heart-wrenching accounts from many people about how cannabis has given them long-lasting relief and life-changing results. She said that the task force has had serious discussions and these resulted to one solid piece of legislation that has the ability to change more lives.
Army veteran Eric Pollack said at the press conference that veterans who suffer from PTSD and who want access to an alternative to conventional medications fully support the bill. He pointed out that these conventional mood-altering meds are hurting these veterans and are causing them to commit suicide. These mental pills, he added, change people bring about issues.
Grimes encouraged Kentucky residents who are passionate about medical cannabis to join a campaign to educate the public about the drug and to lobby the General Assembly in supporting House Bill 166. She said that the measure would provide relief to Kentucky patients who are coping with pain but do not want to the option of taking highly addictive painkillers. She also noted that Kentuckians have been asking for a natural alternative to opioids and other prescription drugs, and now it is within their grasp.
Sims claimed that House Bill 166 is the best medical cannabis bill in the U.S., adding that they have spent hours, days, weeks, and months on it to “make the bill the gold standard.”
State lawmakers have talked about legalizing cannabis several times in the past few years, but the proposals have not gained any momentum. Both Republican and Democrat legislators have proposed the legalization of cannabis in some form, including a cannabis tax revenue generation scheme that would benefit Kentucky’s ailing pension systems.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has earlier said that he would consider signing a medical cannabis proposal into law if the legislature ever passed one. However, he has indicated that his position on recreational cannabis is not the same.
A Kentucky Health Issues Poll in 2012 has shown that almost 80 percent of voters in the state support medical cannabis legalization.
There are currently 29 states, plus Washington D.C., that have already approved the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of symptoms associated with medical ailments. Kentucky is in line to be the 30th state.