The Kentucky House of Representatives yesterday approved a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state by a vote of 65 to 30. And it is now heading to the Senate.
The bill intends to give access to cannabis to patients suffering from specific pathologies and under the recommendation of a physician. A central regulatory body will be responsible for developing the rules of the program. Including determining which pathologies can give rise to a recommendation for cannabis. At a minimum chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea or vomiting according to one of the amendments in the bill.
It will not be smokable. Regulators will also have to decide whether or not to allow edibles, the edible forms of cannabis. At least 25 dispensaries would have to get approval.
Republican Congressman Jason Nemes, the sponsor of the legislation, said in his opening remarks that he proudly drafted the toughest medical cannabis bill in the country. However, he expressed disappointment with the smoking ban. Because “I think sometimes it’s appropriate because smoking is the quickest way” and can be beneficial for certain conditions.
The bill would also impose a 12% tax on sales of cannabis from a grower or processor to a dispensary. Revenues should split between a general state trust fund for medical cannabis (80%) and a local fund to distribute to jurisdictions where cannabis companies are operating.
Several proposed amendments to further restrict the program failed. Including one that would have prohibited doctors from recommending cannabis to people taking certain prescription drugs. And another that would have increased the penalties for those who illegally sell cannabis purchased from a dispensary.
Patients across Kentucky are breathing a collective sigh of relief after this vote in the House. But they know that HB 136 will face significant challenges in the Senate. Said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Now that 33 states have passed medical cannabis laws. It doesn’t make sense that Kentuckians would face criminal penalties if they use cannabis to treat a serious illness.