In April 2014, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear approved an amendment to the state’s constitution which excluded the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), from the definition of marijuana. While this legislation legalized CBD oil, it neglected to include the most important aspect of legalization — language to establish a production and distribution program for patients to have access to the, now legal, cannabinoid concentrate. The omittance of such enabling language left the bill essentially unworkable.
Possessing the CBD oil is legal, only for patients suffering from epilepsy, but it is still illegal for patients to cultivate their own cannabis plants to produce the oil. It is still very illegal to carry cannabis products out of states in which it is legal, like Colorado. It is still very illegal and risky to leave a legal state with the product and then drive through several other states where all cannabis products are illegal, risking prosecution. What good is being able to possess such medicine if patients cannot acquire it? None.
Outside of scrapping the current CBD oil legislation all together and swapping it for a more workable law, there are a couple of options available to Kentucky legislators and the governor. If a bill was to be presented that adds the enabling language needed to establish a production and distribution program to the current legislation, the legislature could vote to approve such an amendment, and the program would have wings. Or, the governor could simply sign an executive order to allow the CBD oil to be produced and distributed within the state. The latter would provide the quickest solution, but the chances of that happening are slim.
There are two other options — two brand new bills filed for the 2015 session. Where the CBD oil legislation is very limited and restrictive, including only patients with epilepsy, these two bills open medical marijuana up to people suffering from several other medical conditions.
Senator Perry Clark (D-Louisville) plans to introduce a bill to establish a medical marijuana program in Kentucky again this year. This bill allows licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from multiple conditions, and it allows cannabis to be consumed in all forms. While his proposed legislation does not allow for the medical marijuana to be distributed through licensed dispensaries, it does at least allow for home cultivation and caregiver relationships. It is a very workable bill. Senator Clark told NPR,
“We have children that are suffering, and nothing else is helping these children. And we know by the evidence that this cannabis oil is helps these epileptic children. It’s time to get it to them. Whatever it takes to break the barriers down, it’s time to do it. It’s passed time to do it.”
While the proposal sponsored by Sen. Clark would not allow for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, the second piece of medical marijuana legislation does regulate production and distribution. House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring a bill, HB 3, that would permit licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from several different debilitating medical conditions, and also allow for licensed medical marijuana cultivators, producers and retailers.
Sen. Clark’s medical marijuana bills have been filed in Kentucky for the last three years, but they have never received enough support. Many patients in the Bluegrass State are hoping that 2015 will be different, and that legislators will realize that they did not actually provide relief to a single person by passing the limited and unworkable CBD oil legislation last year.
Unfortunately, Kentucky is not the only state that has approved limited cannabidiol oil legislation that has proven to help no one. Patients in Iowa are having the same problem, and now officials in Georgia are considering approving a similarly unworkable measure. It is important for people to talk about these issues and share knowledge and experiences because the more it is talked about, the more it will be accepted.
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