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Kentucky Senate passes prescription drug legalization bill

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The Kentucky Senate on Thursday passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana after years of work by lawmakers and activists. The Senate approved the measure, Senate Bill 47, by a bipartisan vote of 26-11. The legislation will now be shifted to the state House of Representatives, where similar bills to legalize medical marijuana have passed twice in recent years.

Republican Sen. Stephen West, the bill’s lead sponsor who has worked to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky for five years, said the legislation would give patients with serious medical conditions new options in treatment.

“It’s time for Kentucky to join the 37 other states that allow medical marijuana as an option for its citizens.” West saidadding that those who use cannabis medicinally should be able to do so “without being considered a criminal.”

If passed, Senate Bill 47 would allow patients ages 18 and older with certain qualifying medical conditions including cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and PTSD to get a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana use. The new Kentucky Cannabis Center at the University of Kentucky, which opened in September last year, could add additional qualification requirements if it determines through data and research that patients with this condition are “likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits from medical cannabis use.” .

The bill does not allow patients to smoke cannabis, although it does allow the sale of raw cannabis flower for vaping. Other cannabis formulations including capsules, tinctures, and topical products are also authorized under the bill.

The bill contains provisions to regulate medical cannabis

SB 47 tasks the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services with drafting and implementing regulations to legislate and regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana in the state. The legislation does not include provisions allowing patients to grow medical marijuana at home.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer was one of eight members of the Senate Licensing and Professions Committee who Vote for progress Senate Bill 47 on March 14. Previously a staunch opponent of legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky, Thayer recently suggested his views on the issue evolve after hearing testimonials from voters. He told his fellow committee members that he voted “for those who suffer”.

“I don’t change my mind often,” Thayer said After the committee voted to advance the bill. “I did it on industrial hemp and I did today on medical marijuana. I’m just trying to be a little more compassionate in my old age.”

Senate Bill 47 now heads to the Kentucky House of Representatives, where lawmakers have approved previous measures to legalize medical marijuana twice since 2020. If passed by the full legislature, the bill would be sent to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who has repeatedly called and repeatedly to the state legislature to pass medical marijuana legalization.

In June 2022, the governor announced that he was creating a Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee To explore creating a path to legalization. In November, Beshear issued an executive order decriminalizing medical marijuana for patients with specific qualifying conditions. And in January, it is Repeat his invitation For state legislators to send a bill to legalize medical marijuana in 2023.

Eric Crawford, an activist who has worked to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky for a decade, shared his amazement after Thursday’s Senate vote.

“I was shocked,” Crawford said. “Now it’s time to go home.”

Under the bill, Kentucky’s medical cannabis program would be launched by January 2025. Crawford, who was paralyzed in a car accident 30 years ago, says cannabis is the only drug that effectively treats the pain and muscle spasms he experiences as a result of the disaster. infection. Although he has nearly two years before Senate Bill 47 goes into effect, Crawford said he understands the delay.

“I thought it would take a long time to set up the system that we didn’t have,” Crawford said. “Yeah, it’s a long, hard wait, but I’m doing what I have to do.”

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