LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The Kentucky General Assembly legalized medical marijuana this year, but patients will have to wait until 2025 before they can get it in the state.
“Most importantly, we just want everybody to remember to be patient,” Lauren Bratcher, deputy director of Kentucky NORML told FOX 56.
Currently, under an executive order by Gov. Andy Beshear, any patient on a list of 21 medical conditions have a legal shield to bring it to the state but run the risk of breaking federal law by crossing state lines. As Bratcher explained, it will be that way for a while.
“We have to build these registries, doctors have to register, patients have to register. In order for it to be legal, in Kentucky, it has to be grown here, processed here. It cannot leave state lines. So that takes time. We can’t just grow a little bit,” she said
As patients wait for the program’s 2025 launch, Bratcher hopes Kentucky can get a head start creating some kind of medical registry. All patients will get soon get a medical marijuana program card that not only opens them up to medical marijuana in Kentucky but it would work in other states with a medical program that is reciprocal. Bratcher hopes that can happen before 2025, no longer forcing Kentucky medical patients to have to choose within the recreational markets offered by other states. Generally, most state medical marijuana program do not take out-of-state patients, unless they are already part of a medical marijuana program in their home state.
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But there’s more to the debate as lawmakers can come back to the issue next year before launch. The new law only covers five conditions, but does allow room for more based on the recommendations of the Kentucky Center for Cannabis. Bratcher hopes to see that expanded.
“I mean, we don’t even have Crohn’s disease on the list right now,” she said.
Bratcher believes as education spreads, the law could naturally expand, but conditions aren’t the only concern.
“So, seizure patients, PTSD patients, people that need this emergency rescue medication they need to inhale. They need it,” she said.
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In the final hours of debate, concerns rose over accessing marijuana in a raw, flower form, versus a more processed form like in oil. Straight smoking of marijuana is not allowed, but using it in a vape form is, thus creating confusion for some lawmakers but a legal alarm for advocates like Bratcher who worry conservative lawmakers could strip down the law before launch.
“So if you have a PTSD veteran having a panic attack, having a flashback, it’s absurd to tell them, OK, take this cannabis pill or this oil and wait 30, 45 minutes to get relief from that,” she said.
Bratcher’s organization is hosting weekly live streams to answer questions and talk about what’s next for medical marijuana in Kentucky. Those conversations start Thursday on KY NORML’s Facebook and Twitter.