Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Secretary of State Grimes forms group to push for legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky in 2018 legislative session

Kentucky Health News

A task force to get medical marijuana legalized in Kentucky held its first meeting Nov. 21 and plans to meet again in December to review legislation to be presented to the General Assembly when it convenes in January.

"The group includes members of Kentucky's medical community, including doctors, nurses and medical administrators, as well as representatives from law enforcement and state agencies with regulatory oversight, medical marijuana advocates, and military veterans," said a news release from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who created the group and chairs it.

The group's co-chair, Rep. John Sims, D- Flemingsburg, is having a bill drafted, Lexington's WKYT-TV reports. "The outpouring of support we've seen so far on this issue is very encouraging. There is no doubt in my mind medical marijuana would change the lives of so many Kentuckians for the better," Sims said in the news release. "I am convinced that together this group will produce a piece of legislation that everyone can endorse and eventually vote for. This is about improving the health of Kentuckians who are suffering every day. It's a no-brainer to me." 

The task force continues the lobbying efforts of member Jaime Montalvo, founder of Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana and a multiple sclerosis patient. "This issue is about compassion for patients, for the people who live in pain every single day," Montalvo said in the release. "My life depends on it, and so many more. We have to get this done."

WKYT reported that some Republicans have questioned the role of Grimes, a leading Democrat who cannot run for re-election to her current job in 2019. Grimes told the station that she wants to be an advocate for "the hundreds of thousands of folks who are suffering across this state," and "It's something people are looking to leaders like myself to help solve."

The Grimes news release said "Significant evidence exists showing marijuana counters side effects of a large number of illnesses and diseases, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, hepatitis C, and post-traumatic stress disorder." While those effects have been widely reported for many years, they have not been explained by scientific research. However, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, according to the release.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll in fall 2012 found that 78 percent of adults favored allowing people to buy marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor recommended it.

A February 2014 poll for Kentucky news outlets found that 52 percent of adults supported the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, while 37 percent were opposed, with an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Later that month, the state House Health and Welfare Committee voted 9-5 to approve a medical-marijuana bill, which never came to a vote in the full House -- then controlled by Democrats, now by Republicans. The 2014 legislature did pass a law allowing cannabidiol, a marijuana extract, to be used in clinical trials or at the University of Kentucky or University of Louisville.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Louisville Democrat who has proposed allowing marijuana to be prescribed to terminally ill patients, says the issue cuts across partisan lines.

Dan Seum Jr., the son of Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville, is among plaintiffs in a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court seeking a judgment allowing medical marijuana in the state. The suit argues that to do otherwise "violates Kentucky residents’ right to privacy in their own homes, and that the state constitution does not allow Kentucky to create laws that are without reason," Lisa Gillespie reports for Louisville's WFPL. "Seum’s father . . . voted in favor of a bill in 2014 allowing the state to study a form of medical marijuana."

No comments:

Post a Comment