In an effort to combat the villainous clutches of the alcohol and tobacco lobbies that have been stroking the system for decades to keep cannabis production in the underground, Democratic Senator Perry Clark has reportedly submitted a proposal to the State Legislature that he hopes will lead to the end of marijuana prohibition in the Bluegrass State.
The bill in which Clark dragged up to the steps of the Capitol building, last week, in the city of Frankfort, where even booze remains in the shadow of prohibitionary times, is the “Cannabis Freedom Act,” which seeks to repeal the current laws surrounding the cultivation, possession and sale of marijuana by imposing regulations that allow the herb to be handled in a manner similar to alcohol.
“It is abundantly clear to me that cannabis, while being much less harmful, should be treated the same as alcohol,” Clark said in a statement. “The Cannabis Freedom Act is an outline on how to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older in Kentucky. It is time for this discussion in our Commonwealth.”
Essentially, this piece of legislation would steer Kentucky into the ranks of states like Colorado and Washington that have fully legalized marijuana in an effort to prevent an overabundance of senseless arrests, while also bringing to life a major economic resource for the greater good of the community. Recent reports show that contrary to the predictions made by key officials in Colorado prior to the official launch of the state’s retail pot market in 2014, legal weed has not caused an outbreak in criminal activity and has contributed more than $100 million in tax revenue, so far, this fiscal year.
“What we have seen is it hasn’t been the catastrophe some people feared that it would be,” Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s Pot Czar, said during a recent interview.
Senator Clark’s “Cannabis Freedom Act” would create a taxed and regulated marijuana marketplace that would allow adults 21 or over to purchase weed from a state licensed retail outlet. In addition, the bill would remove all criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of pot, while giving residents the authority to cultivate up to 5 plants for personal use. Much like similar bills introduced across the United States, this measure would strictly prohibit marijuana consumption in public places. The fines associated with the social restrictions included in this bill would run in upwards of $500.
The proposal is an attempt to intermingle the concept of a recreational and a medical marijuana trade by establishing rules that address both sectors. It comes with a provision that gives physicians permission to recommend medical marijuana to patients (even those under the age of 21) for a variety of health conditions – not just for those epilepsy sufferers selected to take part in Kentucky’s research on cannabis oil.
Although Clark’s bill will be considered in the next legislative session, which is scheduled to get underway during the first week of January 2016, it is doubtful the proposal it is coming in with enough strength to actually stick a knife guts of Kentucky’s prohibitionary standard. However, there is a distinct possibility that state lawmakers could come together on a separate proposal aimed at the legalization of a comprehensive medical marijuana program.
Earlier this year, during a televised gubernatorial debate, then Republican nominee Matt Bevin said that he would work towards legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes once elected. The candidate, who has since become the new governor of Kentucky, said there is enough “unequivocal medical evidence” that marijuana has therapeutic benefit to establish a program that allows the herb to be “prescribed like any other prescription drug.”
So, it should be interesting to see just how the marijuana debate unfolds in Kentucky within the next couple of months. We’ll know by the actions taken in January whether Clark’s proposal is going to get any attention at all or whether lawmakers will pull forth a Hail Mary, of sorts, in an effort to provide Kentuckians with a full medicinal program.