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Kentucky House approves medical marijuana legislation; measure moves to more uncertain Senate

How House lawmakers voted on the medical marijuana bill. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky easily passed the House Thursday afternoon after more than two hours of debate.

Nearly three dozen states have legalized it, and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, called it, “The tightest medical marijuana bill in the country,” and that he’s worked on the measure a long tme. “We’ve met with stakeholders from law enforcement, constituents, patients, physicians, chiropractors, you name it, we’ve worked with them.”

Rep. Jason Nemes was the main sponsor for the medical marijuana bill that easily made it through the House on Thursday. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today))

Four entities will be involved in the final product, according to Nemes, cultivators, processors, dispensaries and safety testers. “Unlike today, the medical marijuana folks will be using, will be tested to make sure that it’s not laced with products that are harmful to them.”

The bill would not allow smoking marijuana, it could only be dispensed in tablet, oil or inhaler versions.

Rep. Robert Goforth, R-East Bernstadt, a pharmacist and substance abuse educator, told his colleagues he had concerns because conditions for which medical marijuana could be prescribed to relieve, were not in the bill, so he introduced a floor amendment to include as a minimum, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nausea or vomiting. It passed by voice vote.

Another amendment, proposed by Rep. Kim King, R-Harrodsburg, would have banned its use if it is contraindicated by other prescriptions. Nemes said that should be up to physicians and pharmacists, and it was defeated.

Other amendments that were approved included requiring a medical marijuana card to be returned after a patient’s death, limiting vaping versions to those at least 21, requiring hospitals to report cases of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome to the Department for Public Health, establish civil liability for dispensaries and dispensary agents who do not comply with the law, and prohibit advertising by medical marijuana dispensaries.

Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, was one of those who opposed the measure. He said, “Marijuana isn’t just a carefree, happy-go-lucky kind of thing you just do on a whim. It’s a drug, and I don’t think it’s good for our people.”

He also feared that by approving medical marijuana, it would open up the door to recreational marijuana legalization.

Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, also expressed opposition, saying there are 600 compounds in the plant and more research is needed to make it safe enough.

Nemes sponsored a medical marijuana bill last year, which cleared a House committee, but never came up for a floor vote.

The bill passed 65-30 and now heads to the Senate, where it’s future is less certain.

The legislation is House Bill 136.

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One Comment

  1. Linda says:

    I’ve been following hb136.

    Your article says that “The bill would not allow smoking marijuana, it could only be dispensed in tablet, oil or inhaler versions.”

    But another article dated Feb. 21, 2020, Ky senate member Jimmy Higdon is quoted as saying;

    It’s a “no smoking” bill, Higdon said. Flower would still be sold, he said, but in packaging that says “not for smoking,” which he described as “frustrating.” But raw flower vaping will still be allowed, as I understand it, so it’s not terrible.”

    Which article/person is correct? Will cannabis flowers be sold? Thanks.

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