Kentucky will soon discuss how it could become the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana in a manner that allows a variety of cannabis products to be purchased similar to beer.
Democratic Senator Perry Clark marched up to steps of the State Capitol in Frankfort last week and pre-filed a piece of legislation aimed at establishing a taxed and regulated cannabis market throughout the Commonwealth.
The proposal, which was submitted under BR408, steals a chapter from a number of successful recreational markets across the nation by pushing for adults 21 and over to have the freedom to carry up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to five plants at home for personal consumption.
This legislation would steer Kentucky into the ranks of the eight states, spanning California to Maine, that have made marijuana fully legal in an effort to prevent senseless incarcerations and breathe new life into communities suffering from economic stagnation.
It would chisel away at the black market by creating a system for cannabis to be grown and sold throughout the state in various retail locations. What’s more is the bill would severely overhaul one of the most rotten aspects of the criminal justice system by eliminating the penalties currently associated with the possession of marijuana.
As it stands, anyone caught with up to eight ounces of weed in the Bluegrass State can be slapped with a criminal misdemeanor, which comes with a penalty of up to 45 days in jail and fines reaching $250.
Clark introduced a similar measure entitled the “Cannabis Freedom Act” during the previous session, only that bill attempted to intermingle to concept of a recreational and medicinal sector. The lawmaker has taken a different approach for 2017, separately introducing the recreational marijuana bill and another intended to legalize for medicinal purposes (BR409).
While the bill aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana may be a long shot next year, there is a distinct possibility that the medical bill (Cannabis Compassion Act of 2017) could have a fighting chance.
Over the summer, a series of legislative meetings took place in Kentucky in an effort to “vet” the issue of medical marijuana, according to a report from Louisville Public Media.
And even Republican Governor Matt Bevin has said in the past that he would support a medical marijuana program that allowed the herb to be “prescribed like any other prescription drug.”
It will be interesting to see just how well the Kentucky legislature handles the subject of marijuana reform in 2017. We should know by February whether either of Clark’s proposals will receive a hearing or whether the issue will be left unresolved for another year.
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