Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Louisville senator hopes third time is charm for his bill to allow marijuana to be used to alleviate suffering of the terminally ill

Kentucky should join the states that have authorized marijuana for medical use, and allow it to be used to relieve suffering of the terminally ill, a Democratic legislator from Louisville told a House-Senate committee Wednesday.

McGarvey after the meeting (C-J photo by Deborah Yetter)
"It's 2017," Sen. Morgan McGarvey told the Health and Welfare Committee. "I think it's time we had a conversation about medical marijuana without snickering."

"Members of the committee took no action on legislation McGarvey is proposing for the 2018 legislative session, but no one spoke against the proposal and some committee members spoke in favor of the measure that went nowhere in the past two legislative sessions," Deborah Yetter reports for The Courier-Journal, quoting Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville: "This is an issue that's got to be dealt with some way."

McGarvey, who has "sponsored similar, unsuccessful measures in the last two sessions of the General Assembly," said public attitudes are moving toward medical marijuana "in some circumstances," Yetter reports. "And he said he doesn't believe support breaks down on partisan lines."

"Everyone has someone in their life who has suffered from cancer or a debilitating illness," McGarvey said. "What we're hearing from Democrats and Republicans is that we need to provide some relief."

McGarvey told the panel that 26 states already allow medical use of marijuana "and said he sees no reason Kentucky should wait any longer," Yetter reports. McGarvey said,"If you're last, you're last and Kentucky shouldn't be the last state to do this." He said it would not be a "back door" to recreational use of marijuana, as some states have done. "That's an argument made out of fear and not out of fact," he said. "It's not a back door to anything."

Yetter writes, "Several supporters of medical marijuana who attended the hearing said they don't think McGarvey's bill goes far enough, that it should allow broader medical use than just for those who are terminally ill. Among them was Dr. Don Stacy, a Louisville cancer doctor who said he has seen dramatic improvements in patients who acknowledge using marijuana 'behind closed doors' to ease pain and nausea from treatments including chemotherapy and radiation."

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