After years of attempts, Kentucky has finally passed a legislature on medical marijuana through the state’s house of representatives. The house voted 65-30 in favor of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely Kentucky’s republican controlled senate will allow for legalization anytime soon.
This is only a small step for Kentucky. Both the house of representatives and the senate are republican-dominant, and although this is considered a small victory, many still believe the chances are slim. One of which is Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, who is the bill’s lead sponsor.
“We have momentum but we’re not there yet,” said Nemes after the vote.
At the end of the day, Nemes believes one reason why this measure continues to flounder throughout state officials is from the lack of studies done by federal departments, such as the Food and Drug Administration. Nonetheless, Nemes is determined to preserve the core goal: “To provide medical marijuana for as many Kentuckians in need whose physician thinks it will help them.”
It’s been a hard-fought battle for medical marijuana supporters. One way advocates were able to gain more support was by offering the harshest marijuana laws the country has ever seen.
If the Senate were to pass this measure, then Kentuckians would have access to medical marijuana, but not completely. As part of the compromise to gain support, Kentucky would not allow the sale or use of any cannabis products that produce smoke. Instead, all medicinal products will be either a pill or tincture.
Although this bill has gained some momentum, it’s going to be difficult to change the minds of many republicans in the house. There are three main issues that come to mind for those who are against medical marijuana. The first is the idea that once you allow a little marijuana within one jurisdiction, it will eventually grow into something more than that.
“If you lift the tent up a little and let the nose in, it’s not going to stop,” said Republican Rep. Stan Lee.
Rep. Jim Duplessis, who seconded Lee in his arguments, believes marijuana will increase the homeless population in Kentucky. Duplessis pointed toward Colorado during this moment, stating their homeless population has spiked since the legalization of cannabis.
The final argument against medical marijuana is that it is a gateway drug. Rep. Al Gentry voiced this concern during the meeting. Gentry has a history of losing friends to opioids. All of this is going to make it very hard to pass through the House of Representatives.
Nemes doubles down against these statements. Although these beliefs have been around for decades, he believes now is the time to take Kentucky into the modern era of medicine.
“This bill is not about fun,” said Nemes. “This is about healing. This is about health.”
Kentucky is one step closer to becoming the 34th state to legalize medical marijuana. There are still plenty of hurdles to jump along the way, but at least now they have the state Senate on their side.
The biggest challenge is going to be getting past the republican controlled house of representatives. Once advocates are able to do that, the process will become much easier.
For now, Kentucky will have to negotiate with conservative members of the opposition. There are clearly many benefits to legalizing medical marijuana. Hopefully, one day these conservatives will see the benefits. Until then, advocates, such as Nemes, are going to continue to fight for this medicine.
“These advocates are working their tails off because they love the people who will be helped by this, said Nemes” They love their spouses, they love their children.”