Saturday, April 1, 2023

Kentucky becomes 38th state to legalize marijuana

KYUnder the US Constitution, any proposed amendment requires ratification by three-fourths of the states.  That means now approval of 38 of our 50 states are required to amend the Constitution. I thought it worth highlighting this math of constitutional reform in conjunction the news from Kentucky that the Bluegrass state has now become the 38th state to legalize medical marijuana.  This local piece, headlined "Kentucky bill legalizing medical marijuana signed into law," provides these details:

After a decade of failed attempts in the state legislature, a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky received final passage Thursday just hours before the adjournment of the 2023 session. Gov. Andy Beshear signed it into law Friday morning before a bipartisan crowd of legislators and advocates, making Kentucky at least the 38th state to legalize medical cannabis.

The actual implementation of the state program will not go into effect until the beginning of 2025....

Senate Bill 47 passed the House by a bipartisan 66-33 vote shortly after it cleared a House committee, with most Republicans and all but one Democrat voting to legalize and regulate the drug.  The passage was a celebration for those who had pushed for legalization in Frankfort over the past decade, coming very close in recent years.

The House had passed a medical marijuana bill two out of the last three years, only to have it die in the Senate due to lack of sufficient support in the socially conservative Republican caucus.  This year the bill started in the Senate, passing through that chamber for the first time two weeks ago by a significant margin.

In the committee meeting, longtime legalization advocate Eric Crawford — a quadriplegic since a vehicle accident 30 years ago — told legislators how marijuana is the only drug that has effectively treated his severe pain and spasms without side effects, saying he and others with serious medical conditions should not have to live in fear of obtaining and using a drug that works....

Under SB 47, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services would be responsible for the implementation, operation, oversight and regulation of the program and its cultivators, dispensaries and producers.  Patients with at least six medical conditions would be eligible to receive a medical marijuana card in Kentucky's program.  The conditions include: Any type or form of cancer regardless of stage; Chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain; Epilepsy or any other intractable seizure disorder; Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, or spasticity; Chronic nausea that has proven resistant to other conventional medical treatments; Post-traumatic stress disorder

A patient also could be eligible if diagnosed with a medical condition or disease and the newly established Kentucky Center for Cannabis at the University of Kentucky determines they could be helped by use.  The center would determine through data and research that the patient is "likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits."

Card holders would have to be 18 years old or a caretaker for an eligible child.  Patients receiving medical marijuana at a dispensary would not be able to smoke it, but would be able to consume it through vaporizing or edible and topical products.

In committee, Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, a supporter who was the lead sponsor of medical marijuana bills in sessions past, warned that under the bill, patients who smoked marijuana instead of consuming it by other methods would be breaking the law and subject to losing their medical cannabis cards.  "You will lose your card if you get caught smoking and you will go to jail, as you ought to," Nemes said. "This is not a wink wink, nod nod medical program."...

In a tweet Thursday, Beshear cheered the passage of HB 551, noting that he signed an executive order last year to help some individuals with certified medical conditions avoid prosecution for possessing and using marijuana — partly out of frustration with the legislature and as an incentive for them to pass it into law....  In the signing ceremony in the Capitol rotunda Friday morning, Beshear and Republican legislators spoke about the historic nature of the moment and praised each other for pushing it into law — celebrating the fact that thousands who are in pain and suffering will be helped.

History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink


What I find most interesting is the provision in the law that allows the Kentucky Center for Cannabis to expand the number of eligible conditions for medical marijuana use. It will be interesting to see how willing they are to use that power or if the General Assembly will be mostly responsible for any sort of future expansion of the program.

Posted by: Jesse Green | Apr 16, 2023 4:23:16 PM

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