Beshear promises action on medical marijuana

Published 6:21 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

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The Center Square

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, in a weekly meeting with reporters on Thursday, says he will take action on medical marijuana.

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The 44-year-old former attorney general, a Democrat in his first term, said he received a report from a task force he put together to study medical marijuana. The report contains information from the meetings, the committee members and individuals who “personally have gotten relief” from medical marijuana.

“With that information, we’ll be making final determinations on actions that we can take, but there will be some actions forthcoming,” he said.

The governor announced he would create the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee in April after the General Assembly failed to pass a bill to legalize it. That panel of physicians, advocates, criminal justice and others held meetings from June through August to take public input on the matter.

The state also received public comments through a special email address dedicated to the topic.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Kentucky is one of 13 states that does not allow marijuana for at least medicinal purposes. It is one of 10 that does allow low THC, high cannabidiol products. There are commonly called CBD.

Beshear, who has declared his intention for reelection in fall 2023, has cited polling numbers that indicate as many as 90% of Kentuckians support legalizing medical marijuana. He’s also noted that neighboring states like Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia have passed laws allowing doctors to prescribe it for individuals meeting certain circumstances, such as having cancer; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease; seizures, chronic pain; or other disorders.

The state’s Republican-led House passed House Bill 136 in the General Assembly’s session earlier this year to legalize medicinal uses. However, that bill never got a reading in the state Senate. That prompted Beshear to take action after the session ended.

Lawmakers did agree, though, before the session ended in April to establish a research center at the University of Kentucky to study medical marijuana.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has lashed out at Beshear’s attempts to take executive action on an issue in the Legislature’s purview. In addition, he said marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal laws and has criticized Democratic proposals to legalize medical marijuana and then tax it, noting that the state does not tax medications.