Former Kentucky congressman Mike Ward is the latest public official to step forward in support of medical cannabis.
Ward, a Democrat, announced that he will serve as the president and CEO of the nonprofit organization Legalize Kentucky Now, which seeks to make medical marijuana available to patients who have a physician’s recommendation to use it.
“It’s time,” Ward said in his announcement.
“This is absolutely something that is going to happen in this country and this state.”
Ward cited the case of his younger brother, who succumbed to AIDS 20 years ago and used marijuana to alleviate his suffering.
“He was in his last weeks of his life and the hospital staff looked the other way as he smoked marijuana in the bathroom because they knew it could help him with his appetite, could help him keep food down,”
he said. “My little brother should not have had to put someone else in legal jeopardy to obtain marijuana purposes.”
Kentucky’s state government has been hesitant to support medical marijuana, with opponents leery of its potential for abuse and its potential for recreational use. Ward, however, sees hope in the fact that the state’s newly-elected governor, Matt Bevin (R), said during his campaign that he would support a bill legalizing medical marijuana in the state.
“Knowing that the governor will sign the bill and is not going to be speaking against it is a big step for us,” said Ward. “Clearly [Gov. Bevin] has other legislative priorities, but knowing that the governor will sign the bill is not speaking against it is a big thing.”
According to Ward, the tax benefits of legalizing marijuana could be quite useful throughout the state: Under his proposal, the increased revenue would be put towards the improvement of roads, schools, and other projects for the public good.