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Kentucky committee finds strong support for medical cannabis

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Recent findings from a panel set up to gauge public opinion about medicinal cannabis in Kentucky have found that many residents support its use.

Governor Andy Beshear formed the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee in June, after state lawmakers failed to pass legislation to legalize medical cannabis. The House of Representatives passed Bill 136 to the Kentucky House during the legislative session but it was not taken up by the Senate.

Through town halls, surveys, and more than 3,500 comments on a state website, the commission learned that many residents believe cannabis can help with chronic conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It also supports its use as an alternative to addictive pain medications such as opioids.

“Surveys indicate that 90% of adults in Kentucky are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis,” Bashir said in a press release. “Our team traveled to the state to speak directly to the people of Kentucky, and they found that our people are already overwhelmingly supportive.”

The 17-member panel includes healthcare professionals, addiction treatment and law enforcement professionals. Among them is Kerry Harvey, the commission’s co-chair and secretary of the state’s Department of Justice and Public Safety.

“Everyone who spoke up supported the legalization of medical cannabis in Kentucky,” he said in the statement. “We’ve heard from many Kentuckians that cannabis is used for its beneficial medicinal effects but they can only do so by breaking the law as it now exists.”

Committee member Andrew Sparks, a former assistant US attorney general, said in a statement that law enforcement is focusing on drugs like fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin — not cannabis.

“These are the drugs that destroy our societies and kill our children,” he said. “This is where the focus of law enforcement should be.”

Bashir said several months ago that he was considering legalizing cannabis through executive action if lawmakers did not pass legislation to do so.

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