Despite its traditionally staunch stance against anything cannabis, it appears Kentucky could be on the verge of legalizing medical marijuana. According to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, medicinal cannabis could be available in the state as early as 2018.
Getting With The Times
Grimes, a big supporter of medical marijuana, will lead a task force geared to study and propose possible implementation and regulation processes of the plant.
“2018 is and must be the year when Kentucky finally steps up on medical marijuana,” Grimes said in a statement.” We have to get this done to help Kentuckians who are hurting.”
State Rep. John Sims, who will co-chair the task force alongside Grimes, thinks Kentucky is behind the eight-ball in terms of medical marijuana, but it’s not too late for the state to act.
“Kentucky is getting left behind on this issue. Already 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana legislation to help their people,” Sims said in the announcement. “The research is done. The studies have been conducted. It works, and it’s time we end our idling and start having conversations to bring medical marijuana to the Commonwealth.”
Sims also cited the plethora of medical benefits linked to diseases such as hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and, of course, cancer.
Will Kentucky Legalize Medical Marijuana By 2018?
Despite Grimes and Sims’ initiative, it could prove to be a tall task towards legalization. For starters, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin remains steadfast in his opposition to cannabis and recently stated it would not be legalized under his jurisdiction.
“There is no way, when I am governor, that I will ever legalize recreational marijuana in Kentucky,” Bevin said. “It’s just not going to happen.”
Bevin cited a spike in marijuana “overdoses” as his primary reasoning for not supporting legalization.
“THC content in marijuana is not like it was even a generation ago,” said Bevin. “There are people overdosing based on ingestion of products that are edibles and things. You have that state being sued by at least two of their border states. You have law enforcement people in emergency rooms being overrun by problems. You have homelessness spiking in that state. It has not been good for that state, and states like us would be wise to look at that and realize that’s a sucker’s bet.”
However, in his argument, Bevin appears to be confusing the terms “overconsumption” and “overdosing.”
According to Dr. Daniel Vigil, who manages the Marijuana Health Monitoring and Research Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health, Bevin is most likely referring to the former.
“What Mr. Bevin may be referring to is an increase in calls to the poison center and visits to emergency departments related to marijuana,” said Vigil, adding that “these are not overdoses comparable to an opioid overdose, and a better term is overconsumption.”
However, there could still be hope for Kentucky.
When Bevin was running for governor back in 2015, he proclaimed he would sign whatever medical marijuana bill passes through the state legislature, but added it “will not be a priority of his administration.” For Bevin, it looks like that date may be coming sooner, rather than later.