High everyone (pun intended)!!!
I have received several requests to explain where the Medical Marijuana effort is for Kentucky.
KENTUCKY has THREE Medical Marijuana Bills in this years Legislative Session.
The first bill I will discuss is Senate Bill 124.
It was introduced into the Senate by Julie Denton, on Wednesday, February 05, 2014, with the following Senators co sponsoring the bill:
Westerfield , Whitney
Blevins Jr. , Walter
Carroll , Julian M.
Clark , Perry B.
Harper Angel , Denise
Higdon , Jimmy
McGarvey , Morgan
Webb , Robin L.
The summary for SB 124 is as follows:
Amend KRS 218A.010 to exempt from the definition of "marijuana" drugs used in FDA-approved studies or compassionate use programs and the substance cannabidiol when recommended by a physician practicing at a state research hospital.
SB 124 was assigned Friday, February 07, 2014 - to Health & Welfare Senate Committee.
There has been no amendments to this bill.
The bill removes restriction, to allow University Doctors to prescribe Oil for epileptic seizures. This bill will allow cannabidiol Medicine, that falls within the definition of the Kentucky hemp law.
Under the Kentucky definition of Hemp, Industrial Hemp has less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), better known as THC and the active ingredient in marijuana (Marijuana has 3% or more). The oil most commonly used by epileptic children has around .3% THC. The oil does not have the high of Marijuana. Just the seizure relief for the children who suffer from them.
This bill has some favor, where the broader Medical Marijuana bill is opposed as Senator Whitney Westerfield has been clearly, and publicly against Medical Marijuana prior to this bill.
Last year the Medical Marijuana bill was assigned to the Senate judiciary-committee. Senator Whitney Westerfield is the chair of the Senate judiciary-committee. At which time he refused to bring the bill up for discussion, or a vote. The 2013 Medical Marijuana bill died, by stalling out in committee.
There is some opposition to this bill, coming from a source, many would not expect. The unexpected source would be from Cannabis advocates. The reasons vary, but the major ones that I have seen will be as follows:
There is a need by some epileptic children to have more than the allowed THC. Some children have a need to raise the THC levels of their oil. This is rare, but for those that do require the increase. Usually is after some extended time of use.
Another main objective reason that opposition has, is that the bill only allows for the low THC oil and that many people need THC Medical Marijuana. Therefore the bill is a way of picking-n-choosing who should see Cannabis relief.
The last major reason to discuss would be, a fear of setting precedence. There is fear that this bill could set a precedence. A precedence that may hinder future Kentucky Cannabis reform.
I will explain my views, after researching this opposition's concerns.
The first concern of some is needing to increase the amount of THC.
Yes this is fact. If the bill passes, it would be something to address the very next session. With University Doctors seeing this medicine work first hand and the need to increase the THC levels was an issue for these Doctors just think of the power that would add to future efforts to expand on that law exemption. Maybe include the exemption of both more THC, and allowing family Doctors to prescribe the epileptic oil. I think it would not be a very difficult task to have this expanded, in future sessions.
The second concern. Yes it would only allow Cannabis relief for a very few. But this very few is children!!! Children with serious health issues. Issues with every seizure causing permanent damage for the child. I think that alone is enough to support this bill totally.
The way I feel about it, let us adults continue this fight. Let the Kids who need this have some Cannabis relief. Yes there is a continuing fight here, no matter the out come of this bill. Yes, there are children with cancer that need the more broader form of Medical Marijuana. Yes, there is way more to fight for. But let's not turn our noses up to any Cannabis relief, that does not bring harm to future Cannabis reform efforts. (next concern to discuss)
The Concern of this bill setting a precedence. This bill only removes restriction from the current laws. No added future restrictions in this bill, at all. Therefore no precedence would be set by the passage from this bill.
A similar bill in other states could set precedence for them but Kentucky is a little different in their law passage structure.
Yes, the passage of this bill, would take away some of the pressure the broader Medical Marijuana bill has with the need for relief for those children associated with the broader bill. I personally think much of the opposition with Kentucky Cannabis advocates lies with this the most, but have good reason to be too ashamed to let it be known publicly. While many more are either not fully informed, or have been misinformed.
I don't think we should pass this up, to add weight to other Kentucky Cannabis efforts. I think that would be very selfish, and shines a bad public light on the Kentucky Cannabis community. Just my opinion.
The next Bill I will discuss, is Senate bill 43.
On Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - the bill was introduced in Senate by Senator Perry B. Clark, with the following co sponsors.
Blevins Jr. , Walter
Harper Angel , Denise
Thomas , Reginald
The summary for Senate bill 43 is as follows:
Create various new sections of KRS Chapter 218A to establish a comprehensive system for medical cannabis in Kentucky, including provisions for medical verification of need, persons allowed to cultivate, use, and possess the drug, organizations allowed to assist in providing the drug, regulation by the state Department for Public Health, interaction with state and local governments, including law enforcement, with persons and entities coming within the purview of the Act, and the establishment of required reporting and review procedures; amend KRS 218A.040 to conform; name the Act the Cannabis Compassion Act.
Senate Bill was assigned Monday, January 13, 2014 - to Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations Senate Committee.
There are No Amendments for this Bill.
This bill has opposition mostly within our Legislators. There claims of concerns, are of the Gateway drug, addiction, and message it would send to the children.
But I believe there are also some public concerns, such as the fear to associate their platform with Marijuana. I believe there is also a fear of lost federal drug fighting dollars coming to Kentucky with the passage of this bill.
To overcome this, there will be the need of mass support which is still a work in process in obtaining.
One of the main reasons I think there is not the out pouring of support for the Medical Marijuana bill is that Marijuana is still a criminal offense and people are afraid. While some are not afraid but are not motivated to give this 100% even though they support Medical Marijuana. The reason I believe the lack of motivation is because of the risk they feel is present and the lack of benefit to them personally. Also, the feeling that Kentucky Medical Marijuana will be very tightly controlled with many not being able to gain safe access.
I do realize anything short of recreational marijuana use legalization in Kentucky would not provide safe access for all those in need. With that said, I return to the fact that with the passage or the fail of this bill the fight for Cannabis reform will continue. So I will encourage support of this bill.
The last Marijuana bill to discuss would be House bill 350.
It was introduced into the House by Rep.Marzian , Mary Lou Thursday, February 06, 2014, with being co sponsored by Rep. Burch , Tom
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - the bill was assigned to the Health & Welfare House Committee.
Friday, February 14, 2014 - posted in committee.
This is the first Medical Marijuana Bill to be carried into the Kentucky house. There has been two previous Medical Marijuana informational hearings in the Kentucky Health & Welfare House Committee. There is another one this coming Thursday.
It is possible that the committee will call a meeting for more discussions and possibly call it up for a committee vote after a informational hearing but it is not a requirement.
For more views concerning this bill, see discussion for SB 43 above. As this is a companion House bill to the SB 43 in the Senate.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is not a voter initiative state.
A voter initiative state can collect enough signatures on a petition to have a law change placed on the ballot. Kentucky cannot, and the state legislators solely decide on law changes for Kentucky. They do have a strong influence from the Governor, in the form of a veto which a veto can be over came by the Legislators.
An amendment to the Kentucky Constitution has to go to the ballot after it gets passed through the state.(none of the bills above are state amendments, therefore this does not apply).
The steps these bills have to take are as follows:
They have to pass a simple majority vote in the committee they are assigned to.
Then they will have to pass the floor vote in the house they was introduced with a simple majority vote.
Then they will go to the other house, and again to pass a simple majority vote.
Then on to the Governor which has three options which are:
First, he could sign it into law.
Second, He could just not sign it, and it would go into law after the grace period.
Third, He could also veto it back to the state congress to be reviewed, and possibly voted on and passed through state congress.
It seems like we have a long way to go, and we do. But we have also came a long way.
Where we need the most support in my opinion, is building the masses to support the various Cannabis reform efforts. Getting friends, family, and the general public to support Cannabis reform.
With that support, there needs to be phone calls to Legislators being made. There needs to be meetings being made with the individual Legislators being arranged. There needs to have those who support Cannabis reform, to be open, and get the conversation started whenever it may seem appropriate. There is a need to call out to all who run for public office, to share their views on the various Cannabis reform options. There is a need for people stop trying to overlook this elephant in the room.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
Yes, and no.
Yes United, for everyone supporting any positive Cannabis relief measure.
No, you don't have to associate with someone because they are pro Cannabis reform. No you don't have to support all groups, or organizations to fully support Cannabis reform. Yes, there are many fronts that a fight can be fought. There can be a divided approach, yet still be united in the end goal. There are various ways, groups, and organizations to support Cannabis reform. You may not click with some people, or organizations and/or groups. So it is OK to find where you feel the most comfortable, as it will breed more personal support being given by the individual. Because the more comfort, the more productivity. You do not have to be friends with anyone to support Cannabis reform. Yet we need to try to always put our best forward so as to over come the stereotype we all share.
I hope this helps everyone to understand where we are, and where we all can discuss, where we can direct our personal efforts. As they will not be all be the same.
Thank you all for reading this long post, and the continued Cannabis support!
Arthur VanWinkle can be followed on Facebook at THIS LINK
2014 KENTUCKY CANNASTOCK can be followed on Facebook at THIS LINK
KLRC LINKS on Medical Marijuana: insert search term "medical marijuana" and it will pull up all kinds of information on these Bills.
Also search under the Bill Number tab and enter specific Bill Numbers there to search: