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.
The first troubling provision is the extremely short list of qualifying conditions. Any approved list of qualifying conditions must be expansive and allow physicians the option to recommend cannabis therapy for a wide range of conditions.
A recent literature review identified over 500 ongoing controlled clinical trials evaluating cannabis for a multitude of serious, chronic conditions -- including multiple sclerosis, Tourette Syndrome, epilepsy, Crohn's disease, IBS, spinal cord injuries, and others.
The process available for adding new qualifying conditions for medical cannabis treatments will be arduous, costly, and capricious. Physicians, in their expert opinions, ought to be provided wide latitude and discretion concerning which patients they believe will benefit from cannabis treatment. Legislators and regulators should not unduly interfere with the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, or in any way impede physicians from providing what they believe to be the best course of treatment for their patients. To put it simply, “Let Doctors Decide”.
Another place where this legislation falls short is the lack of home grows for patients. Registered patients ought to have the legal option to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis in their own private residence.
In half of the jurisdictions that regulate medical cannabis use, patients are legally permitted to cultivate personal quantities. In almost all cases, these provisions have led to few incidences of abuse or diversion. Nonetheless, Kentucky’s lawmakers have elected to move forward with a medical cannabis bill by explicitly prohibiting patients from engaging in home cultivation. Not allowing personal cultivation of cannabis for patients is an arbitrary prohibition that has no basis in public safety.
Rep. Nemes's work for medical marijuana is nothing short of Herculean. However, Kentucky’s patients still have a long road ahead for access to medicinal cannabis. That is why it is so important for our citizens to let their representatives know how they feel about reform and for those legislators to bring evidence-based legislation to the table and put aside outdated Drug-War era misinformation.
We cannot allow our very own Elected Representatives to continue to ignore the will of their constituents and deprive the people of Kentucky the same right to statewide medical cannabis access that 36 other states in our country already recognize.
Co-sign our letter to Kentucky State Legislators demanding that they recognize and respect the will of the people and grant Kentuckians a sensible and affordable Medical Marijuana Program.
We have a long arduous road to ending the cruel policy of prohibition, but we can never quit. Our fellow citizens deserve our help and support.
Thanks for standing with us in this fight,
Executive Director, Kentucky NORML
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