Medical marijuana advocates achieved a long-sought victory Thursday, when Kentucky lawmakers gave last passage to a measure to legalize entry to medical hashish for individuals affected by an outlined listing of debilitating sicknesses.
Within the waning hours of this yr’s legislative session, the Republican-dominated Home voted 66-33 to ship the measure to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. The governor shortly responded that he was “grateful this progress has been made” and mentioned he would signal the invoice.
Supporters pushed the invoice over the end line after years of setbacks, when different variations to open Kentucky to authorized medical hashish died. Medical hashish is authorized in at the very least 37 states.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROPOSAL GAINS MOMENTUM IN KENTUCKY
“It is a really historic day right here within the commonwealth and one which many individuals deserve — particularly the constituents who’ve approached me over time to share their tales,” Republican Sen. Stephen West, the Kentucky invoice’s lead sponsor, mentioned in a triumphant assertion after the Home vote.
Kentuckians with certified medical situations must wait to achieve entry to medical hashish underneath the invoice. Senate Invoice 47 specifies that the medical marijuana program will not take impact till the beginning of 2025, to permit time for state well being officers to draft rules to supervise this system.
The governor took govt motion final yr to loosen up the state’s prohibition on medical hashish, however he has mentioned it’s no substitute for outright legalization, which required legislative approval. Beshear’s motion permits Kentuckians affected by a lot of extreme well being situations to legally possess small quantities of medical marijuana correctly bought in one other state.
Beneath the invoice headed to the governor’s desk, medical hashish may very well be prescribed for a listing of situations, together with most cancers, a number of sclerosis, continual ache, epilepsy, continual nausea and post-traumatic stress dysfunction. The invoice would prohibit smokable hashish merchandise.
“We’d like your assist to make us be safer, so we don’t have to make use of all these prescribed drugs and opioids,” longtime medical marijuana advocate Eric Crawford informed a Home committee that superior the invoice earlier Thursday. “Assist us not be criminals. Let’s legalize this for sick individuals.”
Crawford has talked about his use of medical marijuana as an alternative choice to opioids to take care of ache and muscle spasms from accidents he suffered in a car crash a long time in the past.
“Hashish helps me,” he informed lawmakers earlier in March. “I do know what’s finest for me. I don’t wish to be excessive. I simply wish to really feel higher.”
Beneath the invoice, an individual must be permitted for a card permitting its use. A affected person underneath 18 couldn’t possess or purchase medical hashish with out help from a delegated caregiver.
The invoice gained a vital breakthrough in mid-March when it was handed by the Senate, the place some earlier variations had died up to now. Republicans have supermajorities in each legislative chambers.
1ST LEGAL SALES OF MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL MARIJUANA ARE MADE
The invoice’s opponents saved up their resistance even with the Home poised to cross it.
Michael Johnson, representing The Household Basis, informed the Home committee on Thursday that he is “really sympathetic” for individuals affected by continual ache and different debilitating sicknesses. However he claimed there’s “inadequate scientific proof that marijuana is secure and efficient as a medicine.”
Johnson warned that the invoice would enable individuals entry to “uncooked plant materials,” which he mentioned is “extraordinarily prone to be smoked, no matter what the packaging says.”
Lawmakers opposing the invoice raised comparable arguments in the course of the Home debate.
“We generally give individuals what they need, not what they want. That is a type of moments,” mentioned Republican Rep. Shane Baker.
A number one supporter of the invoice responded to opponents’ claims that the invoice is weak on enforcement.
“You’ll lose your card should you get caught smoking it, and you’ll go to jail, as you must,” mentioned Republican Rep. Jason Nemes. “This isn’t a wink, wink, nod, nod medical program. It is a medical program.”
The invoice’s main proponents mentioned they have been open to revisions in subsequent yr’s legislative session. That features making it clear that faculty districts could be allowed to ban its staff, together with faculty nurses, from administering medical marijuana merchandise to college students, they mentioned.
“It is a lengthy, sophisticated invoice that’s been hammered out over a five-year interval,” West informed the Home panel. “It’s clear there are going to be technical modifications sooner or later, subsequent yr I’m positive.”
Just a few hours later, as soon as the invoice gained last passage, supporters have been in a celebratory temper.
“It took numerous time, deliberation and debate spanning a few years, however we did it,” West mentioned.
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