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.
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.