Last Update: February 27, 2014
Kentucky House advances medical marijuana legislation
Kentucky legislators had been dragging their feet for years on medical marijuana, but that is finally starting to change. Members of the House Health and Welfare Committee made history February 27, 2014 when they voted 9-5 to approve an effective medical marijuana bill, HB 350.
HB 350 is sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville), a registered nurse. A similar bill, SB 43, is sponsored by Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville) in the Senate. These bills would protect qualifying patients from arrest, allow them to cultivate their own marijuana plants, and allow them safe, legal access to medical marijuana through state-regulated dispensaries.
Sen. Clark introduced medical marijuana legislation in both 2012 and 2013, but his bills did not advance. However, the tide began to turn when advocates were finally granted a hearing on the medical marijuana issue August 21, 2013 by Rep. Tom Burch (D-Louisville), chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee. Rep. Burch has since signed on as a co-sponsor of HB 350.
The August 2013 hearing featured testimony from federal medical marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld and MPP’s Matt Simon, and it resulted in significant media coverage, including an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal and several TV news broadcasts. Following the hearing, the Lexington Herald-Leader editorialized in favor of allowing medical marijuana, calling Sen. Clark’s bill a “sensible plan.” Sen. Clark has reintroduced his bill, SB 43, for the 2014 session.
Please ask your elected officials to support allowing medical marijuana for seriously ill Kentuckians. Also, 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 email@example.com to see how you can be of special help. Please include your address or nine-digit ZIP code.
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.