A Kentucky judge ruled on Wednesday to uphold Kentucky’s medical marijuana ban. In the ruling, he cited the need to “curtail citizens’ possession of a narcotic, hallucinogenic drug.”
While this adjudication might make sense in the context of recreational legalization, the lawsuit was over medicinal cannabis—not recreational. Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate’s decision ended a furious debate brought forth by three plaintiffs who decided to sue the state over “denying sick people safe medicine.”
As the Associated Press reported, Wingate concluded that the “discretion to regulate what is harmful to the public health and wellbeing” was well within the state’s purview.
He added that if the plaintiffs wanted to continue to fight the ban, they could take it to the state legislature. So far, it is unclear whether the plaintiffs in the case will decide to appeal.
Kentucky’s Medical Marijuana Ban
The plaintiffs listed in the case are Amy Stalker, Danny Belcher and Dan Seum Jr. They stated that they filed the lawsuit for personal reasons. In particular, they said they each use medical cannabis to treat an assortment of health issues.
Stalker’s suit stems from her need to use medicinal cannabis to treat her bipolar disorder and irritable bowel syndrome. Previously, she lived in Washington and Colorado, where she could use medical marijuana. But when she moved to Kentucky, she lost that ability.
Similarly, Belcher used MMJ in the past to treat his PTSD. But in Kentucky, he is now unable to do so.
Seum, Jr. uses MMJ to treat pain from inoperable spinal problems. He explained that he is reluctant to use stronger drugs, like the narcotic OxyContin.
“I don’t want to be addicted to those type drugs,” Seum, Jr. told the press. “Although cannabis, it doesn’t take (the pain) away completely; it allows me to function a little more. I can function and still not be addicted.”
The Hemp-Cannabis Paradox
News of the verdict to uphold Kentucky’s medical marijuana ban comes in the midst of a revitalization of the state’s economy due to the very plant it wants to ban.
With the decline of the tobacco industry, Kentucky recently moved to pass a bill legalizing the cultivation of hemp, a strain of cannabis with little traces of the psychoactive compound THC.
The legalization of hemp in Kentucky could help pave the way for the pro-cannabis movement. But in the meantime, the ongoing ban on all smokable cannabis has caused friction. This is especially true in regards to the profit margin between hemp and marijuana.
Earlier this summer, a former Kentucky sheriff was arrested for the possession of 71 pot plants, which were found on his hemp farm by local authorities.
When asked why he had decided to grow the plants on his property, the ex-sheriff said he did it in an effort to save his land, implying that his hemp crops were not recouping enough funds.