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Louisville lawmaker McGarvey pushes for legalization of marijuana for the terminally ill

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT – A Kentucky lawmaker, proposing to legalize marijuana for the terminally ill, believes longstanding moral objections are waning in the Bible belt state.

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, made his case for palliative, or “end of life,” marijuana to the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare and Family Services on Wednesday.

McGarvey said his proposal would require a written order by a medical professional to “treat or alleviate symptoms associated with life-threatening illnesses, for palliative or end of life care.”

Louisville Democrat Morgan McGarvey explains to fellow lawmakers his proposal to legalize marijuana in Kentucky (Kentucky Today/Tom Latek)

With heavy opposition from Kentucky’s law enforcement and faith communities, similar efforts to legalize marijuana have died in the last two legislative sessions without being called up for votes.

Opponents see proposals like McGarvey’s as steps toward full legalization of marijuana, and they say physicians can prescribe far more effective drugs that wouldn’t require terminally ill patients to inhale smoke into their lungs.

McGarvey said his latest proposal also would establish a task force to implement such provisions as how and where patients could get marijuana, who could grow it, even the prescription’s strength and more.

“In the year after we pass this, we can set up the framework with the experts involved, learning from successes and failures in other states,” he said.

When asked by a committee member what is the biggest objection he hears on the issue, McGarvey replied: “It’s a moral objection, but it’s going away.”

Discussion among committee members on Wednesday may have reflected changing attitudes.

“I think there is a wide breadth of public support, because it touches so many people in such a personal way,” McGarvey said.

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, said the issue “has got to be dealt with.” Buford suggested starting small, “maybe with our state facilities first, the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville hospitals, where they can handle the distribution.”

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said he is on board with the idea.

“I am personally and professionally aware of the need for this type of treatment for cancer patients,” he said.

“We can talk about all the reasons we can’t do this,” McGarvey said. “But I can point to at least 26 states where they took the attitude that they can. If we take that same attitude and can-do spirit, we can do it here.”

None of the committee members, nor members of the public on hand for the meeting spoke against the proposal.

McGarvey has introduced similar legislation in the 2016 and 2017 sessions, but no votes were ever taken on the bills. McGarvey said he is a little more optimistic for 2018.

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  1. Msgt Vance says:

    Only for the terminally Ill? What planet has he been on? Twenty years of medical access in California with nary a peep of the terrible things predicted by those who would keep up cannabis prohibition. Several years of recreational use in 8 states now with the same result.
    Exactly what is the Assembly protecting us from?????
    Colorado with both medical and recreational use collected 150 million in revenue from 1.3 Billion in sales for 2016 and has created some 18,000 full time jobs.
    Is this what you are protecting us from? Please stop!!!!!!!!
    Cannabis prohibition is not reasonable and it’s continuation is merely arbitrary which we have found out is against the Kentucky Constitution.
    So I say again— PLEASE STOP!

  2. Angel Carter says:

    Stop Destroying families, putting our children in harms way our a plant GOD gave us.

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