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While the Kentucky General Assembly, specifically the Senate, has stood by to enact medical cannabis policy reform for another session, Governor Andy Beshear said on April 21 that he is considering taking executive action to effect the change.
House lawmakers passed a bill that aimed to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to patients for six qualifications by a 59-34 vote on March 17. legislation it was sponsored by Republican Rep. Jason Nemes and drew co-sponsorships from 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
But the Senate killed the bill again: An earlier version of the legislation passed the House in 2020, before stalling in the Senate, which continued to resist considering the issue in 2021 and now in 2022.
Beshear called out such inaction by the upper house in his weekly Press conference Thursday.
“This session, like the last and many before it, the General Assembly failed to do its job despite broad public support,” he said.
According to Kentucky Health Issues February 2020 Pollnine out of 10 Kentucky adults favor legalizing cannabis for medical purposes.
“It’s been passed by the House in the last couple of years, but this year, in the Senate, it died,” Beshear said. “It didn’t even get a vote in committee. So people are ready.”
Previously, the governor said on April 7 that he was ready to explore the possibility of taking action through an executive order in the event that the Senate did not act. On April 14, the General Assembly adjourned without the Senate taking over Beshear at his request.
Now, the Democratic governor announced on April 21 that his administration will move forward with a four-step plan on medical cannabis policy:
- Beshear asked his attorney general to begin looking at options under the law for the governor to consider regarding executive action on medical cannabis.
- His administration will establish a Medical Cannabis Advisory Team.
- He will ask this advisory team to travel the state and hear what Kentucky residents have to say about medical cannabis.
- And the governor has established a way for Kentuckians to contact his office specifically about the issue. They can email the Governor’s office at [email protected]
“These are four steps in a process to move forward to make sure the people of Kentucky are included, that their voice is heard, and that we can take into account their wishes, their advice, their thoughts, as we consider legal frameworks for executives. action,” he said at the press conference.
But Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers issued a statement Thursday night saying the public should be concerned about a governor who believes he can change a state statute through executive orders.
“He just can’t legalize medical marijuana by executive order; he cannot have a statue replaced by executive order because it is a constitutional violation of the separation of powers,” Stivers said.
While the Senate did not act on the House medical cannabis legalization bill, Stivers said the General Assembly began an effort to conduct additional research on medical cannabis by passing House Bill 604which was delivered to the governor on April 14.
That legislation is intended to establish the Kentucky Center for Cannabis Research at the University of Kentucky to research the efficacy of medical cannabis.
“The governor may speak in favor of medical marijuana, but he has not yet signed HB 604 that has been on his desk since April 14,” Stivers said in the statement. He added: “The governor has indicated that he intends to tax marijuana and we don’t tax medicine in Kentucky. If our governor truly believes that marijuana should be used for medicinal purposes, taxing it would be totally inappropriate.”
Under the House-passed bill that the Stivers chamber let die without a committee vote, medical cannabis would have included a 12% excise tax, but that tax would have been paid by a grower, processor, or producer on the actual price of sales made to a dispensary, according to the bill text. the tax would be not they have been added as a separate charge on any sale of the price paid by a dispensary.
In his weekly governor’s address, Beshear noted that Kentucky is one of 13 states that has yet to legalize unrestricted low-THC medical cannabis in commercial sales.
“When you look at southern states like Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, they are allowing treatment for their residents,” he said. “Yeah, we’re actually behind Mississippi this time. We can’t make that joke. Mississippi was actually the last state to allow use. And your state Legislature had the courage that ours didn’t.”
The bill passed by the Kentucky House proposed to legalize medical cannabis for cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy/seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea or cyclic vomiting syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). ).
“For all of those who have advocated over the years, from our veterans suffering from chronic pain or PTSD to mothers seeking help for children experiencing seizures, I want you to know that we are not just listening to you; we want to hear from you directly,” Beshear said.
The governor did not address the restorative justice aspects associated with legalization.
Under current Kentucky law, a first-time offense for possession of up to 8 ounces of cannabis carries a maximum penalty of 45 days in jail and a fine of up to $250, according to the reform organization. NORMAL.
Kentucky ranks second in the nation for the greatest racial disparity in cannabis arrests, with black Kentucky residents 9.4 times more likely to be arrested for possession than white Kentucky residents, according to the reform group Marijuana Policy. Project (MPP).