Last Update: April 15, 2014
Kentucky lawmakers pass, governor signs, CBD bill
On Thursday, April 10, 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 S.B. 124.
House committee passes effective medical marijuana bill in 2014, but House adjourns without taking action
Kentucky legislators had been dragging their feet for years on medical marijuana, but that finally started to change in 2013 and 2014. 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. Sadly, the House adjourned in April without scheduling HB 350 for a vote.
HB 350 was sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville), a registered nurse. A similar bill, SB 43, was sponsored by Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville) in the Senate. These bills would have protected qualifying patients from arrest, allowed them to cultivate their own marijuana plants, and allowed 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 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 reintroduced his bill, SB 43, for the 2014 session.
Now that the 2014 session is over, advocates should refocus on educating legislators and candidates for office in preparation for the 2015 session. 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. 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.