Kentucky Legislature kicks off 2018 with talk of medical cannabis
Last update: January 19, 2018
The 2018 legislative session began in January, and cannabis reform is already one of the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes added her voice to the medical cannabis effort in late 2017, when she joined a working group with legislators and advocates to help advance the issue. A medical cannabis bill, HB 166, has already been introduced in the House, and a similar bill is expected to be introduced soon in the Senate.
If you live in the Bluegrass State, please let your lawmakers know you think it’s time for Kentucky to move forward on marijuana policy.
Kentucky voters elected Matt Bevin as governor in 2015 after he expressed support for medical marijuana on the campaign trail. Bevin acknowledged, “there is unequivocal medical evidence” that medical marijuana is beneficial, while his opponent was dismissive. Since being elected, he has not shown leadership on the issue.
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 protected] 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.
Republican Senate Caucus Chairman introduces bill to end marijuana prohibition in Kentucky
In November 2017, Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum announced that he would sponsor a bill to regulate and tax marijuana in the 2018 session. On January 17, 2018, Sen. Seum held a press conference with advocates to announce the introduction of SB 80.
If you live in Kentucky, please contact your state legislators and urge them to support Sen. Seum’s proposal.
The Legislature has declined to consider previous bills on this subject. In January 2017, Sen. Perry Clark introduced SB 76, a bill that would have ended marijuana prohibition for adults in the commonwealth and created a regulated and taxed system. The bill did not receive a hearing or a vote before the legislature adjourned in late March.
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 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 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.
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.