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Why Do Kentucky Senators Hate Weed? Medical Marijuana Blocked at the State Level by One Senator and It’s Not Mitch McConnell

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Kentucky senator on medical marijuana

Kentucky senator blocks marijuana legalization bill from the Democrats.  You have heard that a few times before, but this time, a new state-level Senator is stepping up, or down, to block medical marijuana for the residents of Kentucky.

It seems the only obstacle standing between Kentucky and a State Senate-approved medical cannabis legislation is none other than its Senate President, Robert Stivers (R). Sen. Stivers has been on the cannabis legislation fence for some months now. He has yet to state definitively whether he’d be introducing the medical cannabis bill to the state Senate anytime soon.

 

Kentucky is one of the few states without a medical cannabis reform; in all previous attempts at approving this legislation, the Senate has been a stumbling block. This year, many stories will be about legalizing cannabis for medical and maybe recreational purposes.

 

Enough Votes To Pass In Senate

Representative Jason Nemes, the sponsor of the recent medical cannabis bill, claims that the legislation will undoubtedly pass in the Senate. The initiative has many supporters in the Senate, and he is still in talks with others to rally their support and votes. Although it is too early to state how promising the reception has been, Nemes is optimistic that the bill will go through smoothly in the House and the Senate.

 

The main problem is the Senate President’s inaction in allowing the bill to be debated and then voted upon.

 

In an interview, Rep. Nemes said that the Senate could make or mar the legislative process to legalize cannabis for medical uses. He mentioned that he and some other representatives, as well as supporting senators, are working to convince the other senators to call the measure in for a vote rather than waiting on the Senate President. If it is put to the vote, it will almost certainly pass by a landslide.

 

The Bill’s Opposition

In an interview, Senator Stivers stated his concerns about medical cannabis legislation. He mentioned that he has always been open to discussing the issues related to cannabis decriminalization and legalization. However, he fears there are so many concerns and medical cannabis studies.

He explained that he is not of the opinion that cannabis could be a panacea that cures everything. Numerous medical cannabis studies are being conducted across various institutions in the United States to prove the drug’s potential, but the state’s Senate President is not satisfied.

According to Stivers, there is a need for more studies and endorsements by federal agencies. He listed John Hopkins and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as trusted agencies that needed to come out and talk about the potential medicinal and therapeutic values of cannabis plants.

In another interview some days ago with Kentucky Tonight, the State Senator refused to provide insight on when he would call for the medical cannabis measure for a vote. The House has approved the bill in the past, and even if the house approves the bill today, It would not be called up to the Senate unless Sen. Stivers or a group of senators requested it.

The Senator only indicated that he did not support taxing medical cannabis like some other legal states. He also added that the road to medical cannabis legislation is not a clear path. There are indicators, which are also statistically significant, that point out that the drug could help in suppressing nausea, anorexia, and spasticity. However, he explains that there are also buzzwords in about 20 studies indicating that cannabis could have an adverse effect on brain development in young adults under 25. Other risks involve psychotic events due to overconsumption of THC and exposure to 50% more carcinogens than tobacco products.

 

Medical Cannabis Legalization

The proposed measure, House Bill 136, would legalize the use of medicinal cannabis for specific health conditions, especially chronic diseases. It would also establish a medicinal cannabis program in the state overseen by the Kentucky Department of Public Health. The bill also proposes a new division under the department to handle the regulatory details.

Some of the medical conditions that would qualify a resident for cannabis-derived prescriptions are epilepsy, chronic or severe pain, muscle spasms, nausea, cancer, fatigue, vomiting, multiple sclerosis, and every other form of intractable seizure disorder.

Nemes stated that the measure would only authorize the use of edibles or pills. Smoking cannabis flowers is prohibited. In addition to this, producers will be forbidden from using colorful wrappers for the products, as this could attract children. Most importantly, personal cultivation of marijuana will not be allowed for now.

 

Previous Attempts to Legalize Medical Cannabis

In February 2020, the Kentucky House unanimously voted for medical cannabis legalization. The bill marked a significant point for cannabis reforms, which had been stalled for so long.

The bill, titled “House Bill 136,” was approved after three hours of debate and nine minor modifications. Due to the pandemic (which was just starting at that point), the bill was unable to get to the senate, as other matters were pushed aside except for spending budgets, not to mention that the session was closed for a while during the lockdown.

Back then, the House was also skeptical about sending the bill down to the Senate. Sen. Robert Stivers was one of the main opponents of the bill. He requested more research into the drug and fewer federal restrictions before changing his stance. According to Stivers, there must be a balancing test to determine whether medical cannabis legislation has more good to offer than bad.

John Sims and Nemes, both co-sponsors of the bill, were opposed by socially conservative lawmakers who believed that marijuana legislation was philosophically incorrect. To them, the legal use of medicinal cannabis would kickstart a movement for legal recreational cannabis use in the state.

 

Bottom Line

Medical marijuana has proven effective for a series of illnesses, especially pain and seizures. Medical Cannabis Legalization in Kentucky would bring relief to hundreds of residents and, to some extent, boost the economic situation of the state.

The ball is in the senate’s court, and without a call for a vote by the Senate President, Kentucky might remain without a medical cannabis program. Federal medical cannabis reforms will come into effect anytime soon, so it’s best for Kentucky to get ahead in the game rather than standby. At the same time, other states move forward with their cannabis reform projects.

 

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