House Bill 136, an amendment to legalize medical marijuana, was introduced in the Kentucky Legislature on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.
Sponsored by Rep. Diane St. Onge, R – Fort Wright, and Rep. Jason Nemes, R- Louisville, this legislation aims to help suffering residents in The Bluegrass State. “The intention of this legislation is not to generate tax revenue, but rather to provide relief to the thousands of Kentuckian who suffer from conditions that have not responded to traditional medicine,” Rep. St. Onge said when presenting the details of the bill.
Similar legislation to legalize medical cannabis was not approved last year, but this year may be different. Lawmakers have been listening to constituents suffering from debilitating diseases, like epilepsy and cancer, who say they would like to have the option to explore how medical cannabis may ease their symptoms.
Why Medical Marijuana?
Cassie Everett, a woman from Louisville who suffers from epilepsy contacted Rep. Nemes to explain why she would like to be able to try medical marijuana. All of the pharmaceutical medications she has to take give her adverse side effects, and she has heard about the success some people with similar conditions have had using medical cannabis in states where it is already legal. “The side effects, they make me sleepy,” Everett said. “I have trouble breathing, talking. I mean, just having that option would be wonderful.”
Estimated to help up to 60,000 people in Kentucky, the bill sponsors also support doctors’ rights to design a healthcare plan that is best for the patient. “This bill is designed to help Kentuckians in pain when their doctors say medical marijuana will help them,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Nemes said. “It is time to allow doctors to have this option for patients.”
What about the Senate?
HB 136 reportedly has bipartisan support, and members of the Senate plan to introduce similar legislation to pair with it. Sen. Dan Seum, of Bullitt County, admitted that he preferred smoking marijuana joints when he was going through chemotherapy to treat colon cancer over taking the opioid painkillers he was prescribed. “And guess what? No nausea,” said Seum describing how the cannabis helped him.
HB 136 Details
Under the terms of HB 136, medical marijuana would be strictly regulated in Kentucky. Physicians would be permitted to recommend medical cannabis to patients. Patients would have to go through thorough background checks, and they would lose their right to medical marijuana if they share it with anyone else. Patients with valid medical marijuana cards would also be permitted to cultivate up to six mature plants at home.
Licenses would be issued for cultivators, processors and retail dispensaries, and yearly licensing fees would be charged. Doctors willing to recommend medical marijuana would be under scrutiny from the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure