For the last decade, Kentucky cannabis advocates have been fighting hard during the legislative session to give Kentuckians safe, legal access to medicinal cannabis. Every year, our hopes get dashed upon the wall when someone in a leadership position sits on the bill, not allowing it to be heard or voted on by their peers.
Last session, finally, history was made when the House Judiciary Committee voted to pass HB136 - a bill that would have established a medical cannabis industry - out of committee and let it be heard and voted on by the House. We celebrated a victory that day, but our hopes were staunched once again when the bill was passed from the House floor into the Senate Judiciary committee, because state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopknisville, who serves as committee chairman, dragged his feet, telling advocates he had many concerns and he was thinking on it, while making it obvious he would not put the bill on the committee agenda until his concerns were assuaged.
A recent article from the Messenger-Inquirer highlighted Representative Jason Nemes reintroducing HB136 this coming legislative session. We look forward to once again supporting this bill. However, like any bill, it has its controversies as is discussed below.
Representative Jason Nemes is correct in the defense of his bill not being for revenue generation. Patients, many of whom are on disability or fixed income, should not be seen by lawmakers as a viable source of new tax revenue. This will ensure legal cannabis products do not remain out of reach from the patients who need them most. However, this bill falls short on a few major points and not for Rep. Nemes’ lack of effort. Over the last couple of years, he has been forced to negotiate out important aspects of a patient-centric medicinal cannabis program to appease many members of his chamber and party.
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There are approximately 700,000 senior citizens in our state. The Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville found people age 65 have grown 23 percent since the 2010 census, while the number of people younger than 65 has declined and they account for over 15 percent of our population, and growing.
In the past few years researchers have been looking into how cannabis therapy is both safe and effective among elderly patients diagnosed with chronic pain, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, “[a]fter six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4.”
Here at KY NORML one of the major pillars of our organization is education. We try to stay on top of as much information as possible to bring the people of Kentucky information regarding cannabis that is relevant to them, and there are none more relevant in our Commonwealth than our veterans. Kentucky has a long and proud history of sending men and women to serve this country with distinction and honor.
But serving sometimes comes at a cost, some more visible than others but always there. Many vets coming home have experienced high-stress situations those who haven’t served can scarcely comprehend. A retrospective review of PTSD patients' symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.
KY NORML is passionate about education. And with the opioid epidemic consuming our state, we feel that it is our duty to share valuable information regarding the relationship between cannabis and opioids. Cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, traffic fatalities, drug treatment admissions, and overdose deaths. We strongly believe, based on research, first-hand accounts, and testimonials that cannabis is truly the answer to combating this crisis that is killing thousands of Kentuckians each year.
Green Flower Media, one of the leaders in Cannabis Education Certifications, has joined forces with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in creating an Advocacy Certificate meant to help individuals affect change in their states and communities.
The program will be comprised of several sections and will cover such topics as: why advocacy matters; how to build alliances; nonprofit management; working with the media; as well as so much more. The Advocacy Program is designed to make people more effective cannabis law reform advocates. Individuals will be able to use what they learn in this program to effect change at all levels of government.
We’re so excited to be sharing NORML’s new Advocacy Certificate program, powered by Green Flower (@greenflowermedia)! In this online program, you’ll hear from 3 prominent NORML members with tips on forming your own chapter, resources to advocate effectively in your area and learn from real case studies that resulted in positive cannabis reform. Click the link to learn more about this exciting new program, and enroll today to start advocating!
#LearnGreenFlower #CannabisAdvocate #WhatLegalizationLooksLike
Recent events have made it clear that we are at a national crossroads. We also reach this crossroads locally as Louisville has been catapulted to the national spotlight alongside Minneapolis in the recent protests calling for justice for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Kentucky NORML stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against systemic racism, discrimination, and intolerance. Cannabis prohibition is just one of a number of issues that have perpetuated injustice disproportionately upon black communities across generations.
To borrow from Eric Altieri, Executive Director for National NORML, “Will legalizing marijuana reform alone solve the problem of racial injustice? No. Is ending cannabis prohibition going to fix all of America’s social ills? No. After we legalize adult-cannabis use, will we see an end to discriminatory policing against communities of color and other marginalized groups? No. Will the end of marijuana prohibition be a small step toward the greater goal of promoting justice? Without a doubt, yes.”
Newly elected Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear scored the second-highest grade among governors in the southeastern United States on the 2020 Gubernatorial Scorecard issued by a national cannabis reform group.
Beshear, a Democrat, received a B- on a scorecard released last week by NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Beshear’s grade was second in the southeast to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s B+ mark.
Beshear received a high score from the cannabis advocacy group, who cited comments the former state Attorney General made during his successful candidacy in 2019.
“I support placing medical marijuana legalization on the ballot as a constitutional amendment and would vote in its favor. I would vote for it because I’ve seen the impact opioids have had on every Kentucky community,” Beshear said. “So many Kentucky families have seen a loved one fall into addiction, and their lives have been devastated. If medical marijuana is an alternative and gives people the chance to get pain relief without being subjected to opioids, I think it’s something we’ve got to explore.”
If you’ve ever been charged with Possession of Marijuana in Kentucky, it is very likely to show up on a criminal background check. But, if you’ve completed your sentence, there is a relatively easy way to have the possession charge removed from your record.
What’s a Void and Seal?
Kentucky law KRS 218A.276(8) states:
In the case of any person who has been convicted of possession of marijuana, synthetic drugs, or salvia, the court may set aside and void the conviction upon satisfactory completion of treatment, probation, or other sentence, and issue to the person a certificate to that effect. A conviction voided under this subsection shall not be deemed a first offense for purposes of this chapter or deemed a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities imposed by law upon conviction of a crime.