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Kentucky lawmakers introduce medical cannabis legalization bill

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A Kentucky legislature voted Thursday to introduce a bill to legalize medicinal cannabis, two days after the legislation won approval from the state’s lead senator. measure Bill House 136with strong bipartisan support by the House Judiciary Committee by 15 votes to 1.

Under the measure passed by Republican Representative Jason Nimes, patients with one or more specific medical conditions will be able to receive a recommendation to use cannabis medically. Conditions eligible for medical cannabis use include multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, and nausea. Nems told colleagues that the bill would help patients.

“I think the debate is over, as to whether or not medical cannabis helps people,” Nems He said. “I don’t think there is anyone, even the fiercest opponent, who says it doesn’t help some people.”

The legislation also establishes a regulatory framework to control medical cannabis growers, processors, dispensaries and testing laboratories. The Kentucky House of Representatives passed similar legislation in 2020, but the bill failed to gain approval from the state Senate.

At a committee hearing on Thursday, Nems said he does not support the legalization of recreational cannabis and was previously opposed to the legalization of medical cannabis. But after speaking to patients and experts, he changed his stance on the issue.

“I will never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what that meant for her baby, and they all walked around the room and said what it meant to them,” mongoose Tell colleagues on the committee. “And I thought, ‘Here are good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I began to question it. I’ve talked to doctors, and done a lot of research on the matter.'”

Kentucky lawmakers hear from a medical cannabis patient

The panel heard Eric Crawford, who was paralyzed in a car crash in 1994. He testified that cannabis had successfully treated symptoms that the drugs had not been able to help.

Medical cannabis relieves persistent, uncontrollable muscle spasms. Medical cannabis relieves persistent chronic pain. “Cannabis helps me,” he said. “Medical cannabis allows me to become a more productive member of society and gives me a better quality of life. It allows me to be a better husband, son, and friend than drugs allow.”

Crawford also told lawmakers he felt his state was failing him by failing to approve a drug that suited him.

“We all deserve legal access to a safe product without fear of the law,” he said added. “Don’t make sick people criminals.”

Nems acknowledged that the bill contains provisions that would lead to severe restrictions on the medical cannabis program, including a limited list of eligible medical conditions and measures that would allow local governments to opt out of legalization. The legislation also prohibits smoking cannabis. Nems said the bill was “tighter” than he would have liked to help win support for the legislation among conservative lawmakers. Both the Kentucky House and Senate are led by Republican majorities.

Democratic Representative Nima Kulkarni, who voted in favor of the bill, said the measure should include restorative justice provisions such as overturning weed convictions, and said: “People are likely to be in prison, or have convictions on record for this, but we are letting some people Taking advantage of the medicinal efficacy of cannabis.

Representative Chad McCoy, a Bard Republican, also voted in favor of House Bill 136, but said the legislation doesn’t go far enough.

“I know what you have to do to get a bill across the line, but I hate this law, I think it’s too restrictive, I think it’s too narrow, I think it’s too governmental,” McCoy said.

The only lawmaker to vote against the bill, Republican Representative Kim Moser, said the measure would lead to excessive government bureaucracy. She also said that more research is needed on the medical efficacy of cannabis.

“If the FDA took a stand on this and actually made it a drug as they would any other natural product, we wouldn’t have to change 39 laws and create this bureaucracy,” Moser said.

The main senator supports the bill

On Tuesday, HB 136 won the endorsement of Republican Senator Whitney Westerfield, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although he has expressed reservations about the potential recreational use of cannabis by young people, Westerfield said in a social media post that he would support the bill.

“I also have concerns about the precedent we are setting by ignoring federal law,” Westerfeld Wrote In a statement on Twitter. “However, I’ve heard so many stories, in my home region and beyond, of those long-suffering and loved ones left behind, that marijuana brought relief and comfort when nothing else worked.”

Nimes told reporters that receiving Westerfield’s support improves the bill’s chances of getting a vote from the full Senate.

“It’s going to go to the Senate, it’s going to be assigned to its committee and when you have a supportive president that’s huge and that’s why supporting Whitney is a game-changer,” Nimes He said.

HB 136 will now be taken up by the full House of Representatives, where the measure may be voted on as soon as next week, according to Nems. Last month, three Democratic lawmakers Legislation introduced It would legalize medical cannabis and adult use in Kentucky.

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