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-Hopkinsville, 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.
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.”