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Kentucky Medical Cannabis Bill Faces Uphill Fight

January 12, 2018
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky touted its potential on Thursday as a viable alternative to ease the state’s addiction woes from opioid painkillers.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes joined other advocates at a state Capitol event to promote a medical cannabis legalization bill introduced this week in the state House.


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Advocates included Eric Crawford, who had a plastic bag filled with prescription bottles in his lap as he sat in a wheelchair. He suffered spinal cord injuries in a vehicle crash 24 years ago, and many of the prescriptions were to combat pain and relax muscles.

“I am a 'no' on medicinal marijuana at this time, pending further scientific information that could change my mind.”
Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), Senate Majority Floor Leader

Crawford, who lives in Mason County, said Kentuckians who want to use medical marijuana should not have to fear being treated as criminals.

“It’s not for everybody to run out and get high,” he said. “You’re helping sick people.”

The bill resulted from work by a task force that Grimes led. The group heard “heartbreaking” stories from people whose suffering could be eased by medical marijuana, she said.

“Kentuckians are begging for an alternative to opioids and prescriptions,” Grimes said. “The natural remedy is what they are asking for to help with their illness and ailments.”

Kentucky continues to be ravaged by opioid-related addictions. Kentucky had more than 1,400 drug overdose deaths in 2016, a 39 percent increase from three years ago.


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Grimes, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2014, noted that 29 states have legalized medical cannabis. Grimes called on the Republican-led legislature to make Kentucky the next state to join the list.

“Today is a real gut check for every member of the General Assembly,” she said. “Will they stand up for the citizens of Kentucky or are they merely going to sit in silence?”

The legalization bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. John Sims Jr., D-Flemingsburg.

Medicinal cannabis advocates face a tough challenge. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer later predicted such a bill wouldn’t garner enough votes to pass the Senate.

“I am a ‘no’ on medicinal marijuana at this time, pending further scientific information that could change my mind,” said Thayer, R-Georgetown.


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“There’s still a stigma around marijuana as a gateway drug,” he added.

Kentucky’s ban on medical marijuana survived an initial test in court last year, when a circuit court judge ruled that the state has a good reason to “curtail citizens’ possession of a narcotic, hallucinogenic drug.”

The ruling came after three people sued the governor and the attorney general and asked a judge to throw out the ban because “denying sick people safe medicine” is unjust.

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  • Denny

    The people of ky wants medical cannabis, and understand the medical value of cannabis, I think with the money being made from pain pills and law inforcement and doctors, the politicians fills he’ll lose his power.cannabis takes all the pills,doctors and law out of the picture and it adds up to a lot of money.but it also puts the power back with the sick person to help there self

  • Toecutter

    Well then OUT with every single politician who doesn’t think this is a State for the people-and each and every one of them in Frankfort large and small are “Public Servants.”
    Then By God, Serve the People OR GET OUT OF THE WAY. Damon Thayer is one of em. Get the H*ll out of the way if you are that ignorant. Get out.

    It will Not Work Anymore this derilect sort of mentality in 2018. This Reefer Madness BS because some ”holier than thou” politician, who is so ignorant he can’t understand SCIENCE if it smacked him in the face!! Lol My Lord!