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Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Kentucky Under Review

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  • Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Kentucky Under Review

    Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee has temporarily shelved a bill that would legalize and regulate medical marijuana statewide while giving cities and counties discretion over whether to allow it.

    Historically opposed to any type of cannabis legislation, Kentucky is now considering legalizing access to marijuana for medical purposes. This month, Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee heard three-straight days of testimony related to House Bill 166, a bipartisan measure that would strictly regulate and license the use of medical marijuana for patients with particular qualifying conditions.

    Yesterday, the committee shelved the bill with a 14-4 vote, putting off consideration of the measure for now. Supporters, however, have pledged to continue their fight.

    “House Bill 166 is not about a party,” said Jaime Montalvo, president of the group Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana. “It’s not about having fun. This is about sick patients, qualifying patients, having safe access to a plant created by our Creator.”

    The bill’s lead sponsor, State Rep. John Sims, Jr., said he doesn’t expect the proposal will be revisited in this year’s legislative session, but “anything is possible.”

    During the committee hearing, Sims argued that legalizing medical marijuana could help address Kentucky’s opioid painkiller crisis. Evidence indicates that legalizing medical marijuana leads to fewer opioid deaths. Currently, more than 1,000 Kentuckians die from drug overdoses each year.

    “This is about patients who have exhausted all their options and resources and now are begging us to pull our heads from the stand to help,” Sims told the committee. He added that Kentuckians have started to move out of state to where medical cannabis is legal.

    The bill presented to the legislative panel has more than 20 House members from both parties signed on as co-sponsors. It proposes licensing all facets of the medical marijuana process, including cultivation, processing, distribution, and dispensing. It calls for an excise tax imposed at the wholesale level.