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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