FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — Medical marijuana is closer than it’s ever been to becoming legal in Kentucky.
The Senate is where medical marijuana has gone to die in the legislature, in previous years it has never had the support to even get a hearing. Tuesday morning that changed when Senate Bill 47 won over enough lawmakers to send it to the Senate floor and give medical marijuana advocates hope that this is the year it’s legalized
“Life in this wheelchair is not easy. I’m still walking in my dreams,” longtime advocate Eric Crawford told members of the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee Tuesday.
On a fateful night in 1994, Crawford became a quadriplegic when the car he was in slammed into an 800-pound cow and broke his neck in 3 places. This is the 10th year he has pleaded with lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana.
“Cannabis helps me. I’ve been crippled for almost 30 years. I know what is best for me,” Crawford said.
The 122-page bill brought by Sen. Stephen West (R-Paris) is the narrowest approach to legalization so far.
“Once I got into it, started reviewing it. The more I researched it, the more I was on board with the issue. And it’s been back and forth ever since,” West said.
He says there are hundreds of changes from last year’s house bill that died in the Senate. This one would cover at least 6 conditions including cancer regardless of stage, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and allows room for more based on the judgment of Kentucky’s Center for Cannabis.
“There are policing issues, safety issues,” Sen. Donald Douglas (R-Nicholasville) said, voting against the bill.
Opponents argue the long-term evidence just isn’t there to support a medical program.
“The reality is that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still considers marijuana a schedule one drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use and treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision,” Michael Johnson of The Family Foundation said.
But the narrow scope of the bill is enough to win over some longtime “no” votes.
“I have been a longtime opponent of legislation relating to marijuana,” Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) said but voted in favor of the legislation because of the limited conditions it covers and to help those currently suffering.
Additionally, the bill is also narrowed to not allow a smokable form of medical marijuana. And if passed the program wouldn’t take effect until 2025, giving time for regulations to be put in place and lawmakers to come back to the table next year. The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote and will be under a tight deadline to receive passage if it’s sent to the House, with 4 legislative days left in the session.