Last Update: January 9, 2015
Kentucky House Speaker emerges as medical marijuana champion for 2015
The medical marijuana issue got a big boost in Kentucky when House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) announced that he would sponsor a medical marijuana bill for the 2015 session. Stumbo’s bill, HB 3, would make medical marijuana legal for Kentucky patients who are certified by a physician. It would task the Department of Public Health with establishing a patient registry, issuing ID cards to patients who qualify, and licensing and regulating dispensaries that would produce and sell medical marijuana for patients’ use.
The bill is very restrictive in many respects. Although it covers a broad range of medical conditions, it does not allow patients to cultivate their own plants, and it only allows medical marijuana to be used in a non-smoked form. However, despite its restrictiveness, HB 3 would bring great relief to many patients who are suffering needlessly without any form of access to medical marijuana.
Stumbo said he does not expect the bill to become law this year, but he told reporters that he sees the issue gaining support in Frankfort. "I think it's one of those issues ... that the more people learn about it, the less they fear it," he said.
Kentucky legislators have been dragging their feet for years on medical marijuana, but that finally started to change in 2014, when members of the House Health and Welfare Committee made history by voting 9-5 to approve an effective medical marijuana bill, HB 350.
In 2013, the Lexington Herald-Leader editorialized in favor of allowing medical marijuana. Today, with Speaker Stumbo as a champion on the issue, even greater progress appears to be possible. If you or a loved one suffer from a debilitating illness and could benefit from marijuana, or if you’re a medical professional, a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can be of special help in advocating for medical marijuana in Kentucky. Please include your address or nine-digit ZIP code.
Lawmakers pass, governor signs limited CBD bill
On Thursday, April 10, 2014, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a proposal that is intended to allow patients to use cannabidiol (“CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana) if directed by a physician. The new law went into effect immediately with his signature, but it is extremely unlikely it will actually result in patients being able to access CBD. Despite concerns about access, and the fact that this legislation excludes the vast majority of medical marijuana patients, it is still a positive step forward.
For more information on this new law, please see our summary of SB 124.
ACLU study shows Kentucky's harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Kentucky are six times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Please write to your legislators and ask them to stop arresting people for possessing marijuana or to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and to regulate it similarly to alcohol.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Kentucky, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.