New governor supports medical cannabis; legislature convenes for 2020 session

 

Last update: January 7, 2020

 

2019 was another frustrating year for patients and advocates in Kentucky, but the medical cannabis issue continues to gain momentum, and the election of new Governor Andy Beshear in November may have provided the catalyst needed to advance the issue in 2020.

Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville) has already prefiled a medical cannabis bill for 2020 and predicted that it will pass the House by a strong margin. The legislature convened for its 2020 session on January 7.

If you live in Kentucky, please write your lawmakers and urge them to support the medical cannabis bill.

On March 6, 2019, after several weeks of delays, the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee finally held a vote on Rep. Nemes' medical cannabis bill with less than a week remaining in the legislative session. The result was overwhelming — a 16-1 vote in favor of HB 136 — but the House adjourned the following week without taking action on the bill. 

Support for medical cannabis has been growing for several years. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes got involved with the medical cannabis effort in late 2017, when she joined a working group with legislators and advocates to help advance the issue, and U.S. Senator Rand Paul added his support for the effort in March 2018.


Senators advocate for bill to end marijuana prohibition in Kentucky

 

In December 2019, Sen. Cluster Howard announced that he would sponsor a bill in 2020 to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana

The legislature has declined to consider previous bills on this subject. Similar bills were sponsored in 2018 and 2019 by Sen. Dan Seum, who retired in late 2019, and by Sen. Perry Clark in 2017.
 

Although it may take some time for an adult-use legalization bill to pass in Kentucky, these senators and others have started a conversation that will eventually lead to the end of cannabis prohibition.

Lawmakers pass, governor signs limited CBD bill 

 

On Thursday, April 10, 2014, Kentucky then-Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a proposal that was intended to allow patients to use cannabidiol (“CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana) if directed by a physician. The law went into effect immediately with his signature, but it is extremely unlikely it will actually result in patients being able to access CBD unless it is revised by the legislature. Unfortunately, the legislation excludes the vast majority of patients who could benefit from medical marijuana.

For more information on this law, please see our summary of SB 124.