There has been a bizarre abandonment of party politics during the race for the next Kentucky governor that may have the power to breed a unique bipartisan beast, and pave the way for the Bluegrass State to become one of the next to legalize medical marijuana.
On Sunday, during a televised debate at Eastern Kentucky University, Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin said that he would legalize a medical marijuana program in Kentucky if he were elected, while Democratic candidate Jack Conway argued that he would not support such a concept because he believes weed is a dangerous “gateway” drug.
Republican Matt Bevin told the crowd that there is enough “unequivocal medical evidence” that cannabis has therapeutic benefit to support the development of a comprehensive medical marijuana program across the state and begin allowing the herb to “be prescribed like any other prescription drug.” Yet, Democrat Jack Conway disagreed, arguing that by providing a legal market there will be more of an opportunity for the drug to fall into the hands of children and turn them into “a lost generation” of reckless dope fiends.
“If we passed a law on medical marijuana, it would be easier to get on our streets,” Conway said. “I understand what hurts kids, and I don’t want to do anything that would have the potential to hurt our children.”
However, Bevin lashed back at Conway’s ridiculous statement by suggesting that black market marijuana is already prevalent in the state and that “the only people who can’t get it are the people who abide by the law.”
While it is not unheard of for a Republican to get behind the movement to legalize the leaf for medicinal purposes, it is somewhat unusual for a Democrat to take such a hammer-fisted position against it, especially during a time when the majority is embracing pro-pot political views. Of course, both Kentucky candidates remain adamantly opposed to getting behind any legislation aimed at allowing marijuana to be grown, sold and used for recreational purposes. So, it is not likely that Kentucky will start selling weed in a manner similar to Colorado anytime soon.
But, perhaps the one thing Kentucky voters should keep in mind when heading to the polls next week is the implications that come with putting a pot-friendly governor into office in 2016. The issue of medical marijuana has been discussed for the past couple of years in the House, but despite some bipartisan support on the issue, those measures have not gained enough traction to go the distance. However, if Bevin, the Republican candidate, is elected, he would have the authority to work with the state legislature to enact legislation aimed at bringing a comprehensive medical marijuana program to the state, perhaps, within the next year.
In 2013, a Kentucky Health Issues poll found that nearly 80 percent of the adults across the state of Kentucky believe medical marijuana should be made available with a physician’s recommendation.