Kentucky House Passes Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky House endorsed legalizing medical marijuana, passing a bill Thursday to strictly regulate the use of cannabis for a list of eligible medical conditions.

The high-profile measure cleared the Republican-dominated House on a 59-34 vote after a long debate. The years-long discussion now shifts to the GOP-led state Senate on whether Kentucky should join the majority of states allowing medical marijuana.

Supporters said medical marijuana would ease the suffering of many Kentuckians.

“I know real people that had their lives turned around by these products, and a lot of them are living in the closet or living in secrecy because they feel like they’re a criminal,” Rep. Al Gentry said.

“Please, let’s pass this and allow some people to move on and live a happy life,” the Democratic lawmaker added.

Opponents said they worry that Kentucky’s cannabis policy would become more lenient over the years if medical marijuana gets a legal foothold. That would worsen drug addiction woes, they said.

“The common denominator of 99.9 percent of the drug addiction problem in America started with marijuana,” Republican Rep. Chris Fugate said.

Under the bill, doctors could prescribe medical cannabis for a specified list of conditions that include multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy and nausea. The House amended the bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of approved medical conditions to obtain medical marijuana.

The measure includes “home rule” provisions. It would make medical cannabis legal statewide but county fiscal courts or commissions could vote to disallow it. However, communities in those counties would have the option to allow it.


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