Recent legislative developments have raised concerns among advocates for patient access to medical cannabis. House Bill 829, introduced by Rep. Jason Nemes, has ignited a crucial debate within Kentucky's cannabis community. This blog post delves into the implications of this proposed legislation and underscores the importance of preserving patient access to medical cannabis.
The Impact of House Bill 829
House Bill 829 has emerged as a potential obstacle to the successful implementation of Kentucky's medical cannabis program. Its provisions, if enacted, would not only hinder patients' ability to access medicinal cannabis but also pose challenges to the core tenets of a patient-centric approach.
In a landscape where cannabis reform is gaining momentum across the nation, the lack of substantive action from our elected representatives is becoming increasingly frustrating for advocates and citizens alike. Despite the introduction of several bills aimed at advancing cannabis reform, the apparent reluctance to address these crucial issues head-on leaves us questioning the commitment of our elected officials to the will of the people.
The Bills Left on the Shelf
Numerous bills related to cannabis reform have been introduced, covering a range of topics from decriminalization and medicinal use to comprehensive regulatory frameworks. Yet, these bills seem to have been relegated to the back burner, gathering dust as our representatives prioritize other legislative matters.
In the ongoing pursuit of workplace safety, legislators are considering measures to address potential impairment due to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of cannabis. It's essential to delve into the proposed legislation, which aims to establish guidelines for THC testing in the context of workplace injuries, occupational diseases, or fatalities.
Understanding the Legislation
The proposed legislation introduces a framework for assessing THC levels in employees involved in workplace incidents. If a scientifically reliable test reveals a THC level of five (5) nanograms or more per milliliter, and no other substances are found in excess amounts, the burden of proof shifts to the employer. They must demonstrate that the injury, occupational disease, or death was caused by the introduction of THC into the employee's body.
On the contrary, if the test shows a THC level of less than five nanograms, and no other substances are found in excess amounts, there is an irrebuttable presumption that THC did not cause the adverse outcome. This legislation is designed to establish clarity and accountability in cases where THC may be present.
Kentucky's medical cannabis program is on the brink of a significant expansion, with a new bill introduced in the state's House of Representatives seeking to broaden the qualifying conditions. The potential inclusion of various health conditions reflects a pivotal step towards making medical cannabis more accessible to a broader spectrum of individuals. In this blog post, we'll delve into the proposed conditions, their potential impact, and the progress Kentucky is making in the realm of medical cannabis.
Expanding the Qualifying Conditions
The bill introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives aims to extend the list of qualifying conditions for the medical cannabis program. Currently, patients with chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain, epilepsy, intractable seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms or spasticity, and PTSD are eligible for medical cannabis.
In a significant legislative development, Kentucky is currently grappling with the impending Senate Bill 32 (SB 32), which aims to criminalize individuals operating a vehicle with trace levels of THC in their blood, even if they are no longer impaired. This proposal, if passed into law, would set an arbitrary and unscientific THC blood limit of 5 ng/mL, raising concerns among experts and advocates alike.
The Unscientific Nature of the Proposed THC Limits
SB 32's proposal hinges on the establishment of a THC blood limit that is deemed inconsistent and largely inappropriate by experts such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA). The sole presence of THC in blood, particularly at low levels, is recognized as an unreliable indicator of psychomotor impairment in individuals who consume cannabis.
One critical factor contributing to this unreliability is THC's fat solubility, allowing it to linger in a person's blood for several days after marijuana use. This extended detection period far surpasses any reasonable timeframe for impairment, posing a significant flaw in the proposed legislation. The enforcement of such a strict liability standard risks unjustly convicting unimpaired drivers of traffic safety violations, casting a wide net that may inadvertently impact innocent individuals.
Kentucky finds itself at a crucial crossroads with the introduction of House Bill 72 (HB 72), a legislative initiative aimed at legalizing the personal possession of marijuana by adults. This proposed bill, if enacted, would repeal criminal penalties for individuals aged 21 and over who possess and/or home-cultivate personal-use quantities of cannabis. As the state grapples with the consequences of over 300,000 arrests for marijuana violations since 2022, HB 72 emerges as a beacon of change, calling for an end to punitive measures and a shift towards a more just and equitable approach.
The Current Scenario
The numbers are stark and alarming – since 2022, more than 300,000 Kentuckians have been arrested for violating marijuana laws, with over 90 percent facing charges of simple possession only. This offense, classified as a Class B misdemeanor, carries penalties of up to 45 days in jail and the imposition of a criminal record. The impact of these arrests is not only disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens but also diverting law enforcement resources away from addressing more serious criminal activities.
Welcome to our weekly blog post recapping the latest episode of the Kentucky NORML Livestream. We are thrilled to bring you the highlights and insights from our weekly updates..
Our Livestream series serves as a platform to discuss important topics, debunk myths, and promote evidence-based information surrounding medical cannabis.
In this recap, we will provide you with a overview of the key takeaways from the livestream, ensuring that you stay informed about the latest developments in medical cannabis advocacy and policy. We have also embedded the recorded video of the Livestream, allowing you to watch the discussion firsthand and engage with the content directly.
We believe in empowering individuals with knowledge and fostering a community of informed advocates. We invite you to explore the additional resources mentioned in the Livestream, such as relevant articles, studies, and websites, to deepen your understanding of medical cannabis.
Join us in the conversation by leaving your comments and questions in the video chat or directly on this post. Your active participation helps us create a dynamic and inclusive community dedicated to promoting sensible cannabis policy and advancing patient care.
Together, let's continue to explore, educate, and advocate for a more compassionate and well-informed approach to cannabis policy and its impact on patient well-being.
Watch the embedded video below and let's embark on this enlightening journey together!
Supposed cannabis-induced psychosis, Kentucky Primaries, and Smoke the Vote: Live with Kentucky NORML, May 11, 2023
This week's LiveStream topic is The History of Medical Cannabis and Its Use Throughout the Ages
Cannabis Conversations with Kentucky NORML:
Empowering Consumers with Information, Education, and Current Laws
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kentucky: Legislature Approves Medical Cannabis Bill 26-11
Kentucky Becomes the 38th State to Legalize Medical Cannabis
Frankfort, KY - Kentucky House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, Senate Bill 47, establishing a medical cannabis access program for qualified patients with an authorization from their physician.
In years past we’ve been overlooked despite overwhelming support and public opinion.
Will you help us ensure that cannabis reform has a place at the table in January by emailing your State Senator today?
We're halfway through the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly. We thank you for every call, email, and meeting by Kentuckians to State Legislators supporting cannabis policy reform. We firmly believe that every action, no matter how small, is significant and impactful.
Kentucky NORML is dedicated to strengthening our grassroots movement for cannabis policy reform. We're grateful for the legislators who share our perspective on the urgent need for medical cannabis and are responsive to the needs of Kentuckians. However, there are too few leaders who prioritize the interests of their constituents in Frankfort.
Kentucky GOP leadership has spent years stalling on medical cannabis using easily refuted concerns and seeking taxpayer money for more research. We do not believe these calls are sincere, but a stall tactic.
The research has already been conducted. Since 2010, scientists have published over 30,000 peer-reviewed papers specific to cannabis, with the annual number of total papers increasing every year. This information is widely available to those who wish to review it. We should be discussing what we do know about cannabis and what it can do for Kentuckians, not emphasizing what we don’t know.
To ensure that Senate and Leadership were fully aware of this research, we hand delivered NORML’s “Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature” to every current Kentucky Senator on February 14th. This publication alone cites over 450 studies and assesses the use of cannabinoids in various patient populations.
In all cases, science has sufficiently made the case that cannabis is safe and effective. This fact should no longer be the subject of any serious debate.
Despite these challenges, Kentucky NORML and its supporters continue to make our voices heard. Thank you for your ongoing dedication to supporting cannabis policy reform in Kentucky.
Bookmark Kentucky NORML's Cannabis Bill Tracker stay updated and informed on all the cannabis bills in play this session.
Call the legislative hotline at 1-800-372-7181 and leave a message voicing support or your opposition for the following bills.
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HB 488 is a bill introduced by Representative A. Gentry with the aim of improving the current worker's compensation system. The bill proposes to exclude certain levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the blood from being used as evidence to assume that an injury was caused by the introduction of that substance. This move is a step towards ensuring that individuals who are injured on the job are not unfairly denied compensation simply because they have THC in their system.
The supporters of this bill argue that the presence of THC in the body does not necessarily indicate impairment, as THC can remain in a person's system for up to 30 days after use. Therefore, relying on the presence of THC in the blood as evidence of intoxication during the time of the injury is not scientifically sound.
HB 488 aims to address a gap in the worker's compensation system by ensuring that individuals who have THC in their system are not automatically denied compensation. This bill is a step towards a fairer and more just system that takes into account the latest scientific research on THC and its effects on the human body.
House Bill 348 is currently being criticized as an attack on the hemp industry, as it represents yet another example of the Republican party attempting to restrict and enforce more regulations on an already struggling industry.
The hemp industry in Kentucky has been suffering from the negative impacts of previous legislation and regulatory actions by the Department of Agriculture. These harmful regulations have caused almost irreversible damage to Kentucky's hemp farmers, who were once leaders in the fledgling industry. After only a few short years of these bad regulations, the industry has been severely impacted and is now just a shadow of its former self.
Given this situation, farmers, retailers, and processors in the hemp industry deserve better treatment from the state. As a result, many people are strongly opposed to the current bill and view it as an additional burden on an already struggling industry.
These two bills, SB 266 and SB 269, aim to regulate the possession and use of intoxicating hemp products. SB 266 proposes to prohibit individuals under the age of 21 from possessing such products, while SB 269 seeks to prevent driving under the influence of these substances.
The support for age limits on the sale of intoxicating hemp products is based on the concern that young people are more susceptible to the negative effects of these substances, including impaired judgment, cognitive deficits, and addiction. By restricting access to such products, it is hoped that the potential harm to young people can be minimized.
The support for the prohibition of driving under the influence of intoxicating hemp products is based on the fact that these substances can impair driving ability, reaction times, and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents and injury. The recommendation of waiting four hours before operating a motor vehicle after partaking in these substances is in line with the guidelines for alcohol consumption, which similarly recommend waiting before driving.
However, a challenge with regulating the use of intoxicating hemp products is the lack of standardized methods for assessing intoxication. Unlike alcohol, which has established breathalyzer tests to determine blood alcohol content, there is currently no widely accepted method for measuring the level of cannabinoids in a person's system to determine impairment. As a result, there may be concerns about arresting individuals who have cannabinoid metabolites in their system, but who may not be actually intoxicated at the time of the arrest.
KY HB590 - AN ACT RELATING TO MEDICINAL CANNABIS
Introduced Session: 2023 Regular Session
Bill Summary: Create a new section of KRS Chapter 218A to define "cannabis"; require the Kentucky Center for Cannabis to establish criteria for determining when sufficient data exists to support the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes; permit the center to produce and dispense cannabis products to certain patients; permit the center to establish and operate cannabis dispensing centers throughout the state, exempt patients who receive cannabis products from the center from prosecution for a violation of KRS 218A.1421, 218A.1422, or 218A.1423.
Subject: Cannabis Drugs and Medicines Education, Higher Health and Medical Services
Sponsors (2): Kimberly Moser (R)*, Thomas Smith (R),
Medical cannabis has been a hot topic for legislators in Kentucky for the past several years, and Representative Kim Moser's bill, HB 590, has caused controversy among those who support it. The bill seeks to leave the decision on whether or not Kentucky gets a medical cannabis program up to the Kentucky Center on Cannabis, established by Moser in a previous session. However, the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, which oversees the Center, has a history of demonizing cannabis and cannabinoids and spreading debunked Drug War propaganda.
The lead researcher at the Kentucky Center for Cannabis, Dr. Shanna Babalonis, has little experience with clinical studies and from all accounts has had a difficult time getting and retaining research subjects. Moreover, the research the Kentucky Center for Cannabis is currently doing is not novel or groundbreaking, but merely rehashing studies from other facilities with better funding and knowledge bases.
KY HB 590 is nothing more than bad-faith, self-serving legislation meant to continue denying the people of Kentucky access to cannabis. Despite more than 30,000 scientific and clinical studies on cannabis and cannabinoids in the last decade, this bill claims to determine whether sufficient scientific data and evidence exist to demonstrate the medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits of cannabis.
House Bill 590 leaves all aspects of a medical cannabis program to the University of Kentucky through its related research departments, which has no experience in growing cannabis to scale, knowledge of the different cultivars and their uses for specific medical conditions, or setting up a distribution network. The decision for medical cannabis would be left in the hands of uninformed, unprepared, and unsuited unelected state employees who are beholden to their financiers from pharmaceutical, insurance, and anti-choice organizations.
We view this effort as waste of taxpayer money. At least $2 million is appropriated from Kentucky taxpayers, who will also fund the growing facilities, distribution, and implementation needs for a medical cannabis program. The trial and error research that will bring us no further to any understanding of the cannabis plant that hasn't already been done will be paid for by the Kentucky taxpayer.
Rep. Moser's HB 590 is not the reform that the people of Kentucky need. Instead of wasting time and money on a program that will likely fail, legislators should focus on the existing scientific data and industry standards for dosage guidelines and appropriate methods of consumption for cannabis. Instead of a big-government program taking the lead, private enterprises should have a role in growing, processing, and distributing cannabis, and legislators should not be beholden to special interest groups. The people of Kentucky deserve better.
KY HB 590
KY HB47 - AN ACT relating to cannabis.
Introduced Session: 2023 Regular Session
Bill Summary: Create a new section of KRS Chapter 218A to make possession of a personal use quantity of cannabis exempt from civil or criminal penalty; amend KRS 218A.010 to define "cannabis," "personal use quantity of cannabis," and "cannabis accessory"; amend KRS 218A.1422 regarding cannabis possession to conform; amend KRS 218A.1423 regarding cannabis cultivation to conform; amend KRS 218A.500 regarding drug paraphernalia to exempt personal use cannabis accessories; amend KRS 218A.1421 on cannabis trafficking to exempt personal use quantities; amend KRS 138.872 to exclude personal use quantities from cannabis stamp tax; amend KRS 218A.410 and 533.030 to conform; create a new section of KRS Chapter 431 to allow expungement of certain convictions relating to cannabis; apply Section 10 retroactively.
Subject: Civil Procedure Corrections Impact Courts Crimes and Punishments Drugs and Medicines Peace Officers and Law Enforcement Retroactive Legislation Taxation
Sponsors (5): Nima Kulkarni (D)*, George Brown (D), Lindsey Burke (D), Alan Gentry (D), Sarah Stalker (D),
Last Action : to Appropriations & Revenue (H) (on 02/23/2023)
KY HB48 - AN ACT proposing to create a new section of the Constitution of Kentucky relating to the possession of cannabis.
Introduced Session: 2023 Regular Session
Bill Summary: Propose to create a new section of the Kentucky Constitution to guarantee the right of an individual 21 years of age or older to possess, use, buy, or sell one ounce or less of cannabis and to cultivate, harvest, and store up to 5 cannabis plants for personal use; and for the production, processing, and sale of cannabis and cannabis-derived products to be controlled by the General Assembly; specify the question to be printed on the ballot; direct the Secretary of State to publish the proposed amendment in a newspaper of general circulation; direct the Secretary of State to certify the proposed amendment to the county clerk of each county.
Subject: Cannabis Constitution, Ky. Corrections Impact Drugs and Medicines General Assembly Licensing
Sponsors (4): Nima Kulkarni (D)*, George Brown (D), Alan Gentry (D), Sarah Stalker (D),
Last Action: to Committee on Committees (H) (on 01/03/2023)
Decriminalization refers to the process of removing or reducing criminal penalties for certain actions that were previously considered illegal. In the context of cannabis, decriminalization typically means removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use.
HB 47 and HB 48 are bills proposed in the legislative session by Rep. Nima Kulkarni, along with other sponsors. These bills aim to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use in the state of Kentucky.
If these bills were to become law, individuals caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use would no longer face criminal charges or the possibility of jail time. Instead, they would face civil penalties, such as a fines or community service.
The rationale behind decriminalization is that criminalizing cannabis possession disproportionately affects marginalized communities, and that the current criminal justice system often imposes harsher penalties on those communities. Decriminalization also allows law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes, rather than spending time and resources on minor drug offenses.
It's important to note that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Decriminalization only removes or reduces criminal penalties for certain actions, while legalization allows for the sale and possession of cannabis for recreational or medical use, subject to regulation and taxation.
KY SB47 - AN ACT relating to medicinal cannabis.
Introduced Session 2023 Regular Session
Create new sections of KRS Chapter 218A to define terms and establish a medicinal cannabis program; amend KRS 342.815 to establish that the Employer’s Mutual Insurance Authority shall not be required to provide coverage to an employer if doing so would subject the authority to a violation of state or federal law; amend KRS 216B.402 to require hospital emergency departments to report cases of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control; amend KRS 218A.010, 218A.1421, 218A.1422, 218A.1423, and 218A.500 to conform; amend KRS 12.020, 12.252, 15.300, 15.380, 15.398, 15.420, 15A.340, 61.592, 62.160, 131.1815, 211.285, 241.010, 241.015, 241.030, 243.025, 243.0307, 243.038, 243.090, 243.360, 438.310, 438.311, 438.313, 438.315, 438.317, 438.320, 438.325, 438.330, 438.337, and 438.340 to change the name of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control; some sections EFFECTIVE July 1, 2024.
Stephen West (R)*, Shelley Frommeyer (R), Denise Harper Angel (D), Jimmy Higdon (R), Stephen Meredith (R), Gerald Neal (D), Mike Nemes (R), Brandon Smith (R), Reginald Thomas (D), Robin Webb (D), Phillip Wheeler (R), David Yates (D),
to Committee on Committees (S) (on 01/05/2023)
Kentucky Senate Bill 47 is seen as a continuation of the previous discussions around medical cannabis as proposed by Rep. Nemes in previous legislative sessions. Although it has some flaws, such as the absence of home grows for patients and caregivers, no employment protections for medical cannabis patients, and the mandated use of pharmacists in dispensaries, these issues are not insurmountable.
SB 47 aims to promote a healthy medical cannabis industry while keeping a tight leash on qualifying patients. It has been supported by legislators from both sides of the aisle, as well as civil rights, law enforcement, union, veteran, medical organizations, and patient advocacy groups. However, SB 47 still needs support from more legislators to pass in the Senate.
Recently, we attended meetings with members of Senate leadership and committee chairpersons seeking support for the bill. We provided them with fact sheets on cannabis and the book on the Clinical Applications of Cannabis and Cannabinoids authored by Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Chair of Science at Oaksterdam University. Kentucky NORML offered to answer any questions they may have on the subject, but we have yet to hear back from anyone on that front.
We urge everyone to reach out to their legislators and ask them to support cannabis policy reform during this session. The clock is ticking, and we need more enthusiasm from legislators to support this bill and other proposed medical cannabis bills such as HB 22, HB 107, SB 51, and SB 78.
Let's make sure Kentucky moves forward in supporting safe and accessible medical cannabis for those who need it.
Lauren Morgan Bratcher
Deputy Director | Kentucky NORML
Feb 5, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
URGENT CLARIFICATION ON CANNABIS LAWS IN KENTUCKY
The Kentucky Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Kentucky NORML) is issuing a clarification regarding the status of medical cannabis in the state.
Louisville, KY - The Kentucky Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Kentucky NORML) is issuing a clarification regarding the status of medical cannabis in the state.
It is important to note that medical cannabis is not legal in Kentucky and the Governor's recent executive order only pertains to pardons for individuals who have medical cannabis in their possession, not to the legality of possessing or using medical cannabis.
The executive order requires individuals to provide documentation to show that they have been diagnosed with at least one of the eligible conditions in the executive order and that they have a bona fide relationship with the healthcare provider. However, this does not mean that possessing or using medical cannabis is legal in Kentucky.
Additionally, crossing state lines with medical cannabis, regardless of documentation, remains a violation of federal law. It is the responsibility of individuals to weigh the risks and make informed decisions about their actions.
Kentucky NORML strongly advises the public to be cautious of businesses selling medical cannabis cards or certifications for exorbitant prices, as the executive order on medical cannabis has not been tested in courts as of yet, and there is no guarantee that these cards or letters will be verified by a judge.
For accurate and up-to-date information about the progress of marijuana reform in Kentucky, please visit kynorml.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-888-1522 for assistance and guidance.
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About Kentucky NORML
Since its founding in 1970, NORML, National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose cannabis prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting cannabis consumers. A nonprofit public-interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who use cannabis responsibly.
Kentucky NORML, the Kentucky State Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), has been working for reform in Kentucky since 2017 thanks to organic grassroots support. Kentucky NORML is a statewide, non-profit organization powered by the continued generosity of its members, sponsors, and donors.
Kentucky NORML fights to reform state cannabis laws through the elected legislatures; serves as an informational resource to the media on cannabis-related stories; and serves under the umbrella for a national network of citizen-activists committed to ending marijuana prohibition and legalizing cannabis.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Confusion continues over Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's executive order granting preemptive pardons for medical marijuana obtained out of state. Advocates say that a lack of clarity and understanding about the order is causing confusion and fear among those who need medical marijuana, with some even believing it has legalized the drug entirely.
"The current state of confusion surrounding the executive order granting conditional and preemptive pardons for medical cannabis is concerning. We hope that through the course of the next few months, we can clear up any misunderstandings and avoid any negative consequences for those seeking medical treatment," said Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director of the Kentucky NORML. "Many people may not have a clear understanding of what the executive order actually entails and may be misled."
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