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Governor's Report shows ‘overwhelming support’ for medical marijuana

Advisory committee did not hear any opposition at their town hall meetings.


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear released a summary Friday of the feedback obtained by his Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee, saying Kentuckians agree it is past time to act on legalizing medical cannabis.

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In June, Beshear announced the members of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee to advise him on providing access to medical cannabis, which is legal in more than three dozen states, for Kentuckians suffering from chronic pain and other medical conditions.

Legislation to legalize medical marijuana has passed the Kentucky House twice but has never received a vote in the Senate.

“Polling suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis,” Beshear said. “Our team traveled the state to talk directly to Kentuckians, and they found our people do indeed overwhelmingly support it.” 

Some of the panel’s findings include:

--Kentuckians of all ages are suffering from chronic conditions. Medical providers are prescribing opioids and painkillers that are not providing relief, and Kentuckians are fearful of their addictive properties. Research indicates individuals cannot overdose from cannabis.

--Kentuckians are leaving the state to access medical cannabis in states where it is legal. They want to be able to return to the commonwealth without breaking the law.

--Kentucky military veterans explained that PTSD was significantly eased by cannabis.

Kerry Harvey, Justice Cabinet Secretary and a former U.S. Attorney, who served as co-chair of the committee, noted the advisory committee did not hear any opposition at their town hall meetings.

“Everyone who spoke supported legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky,” Harvey said. “We heard from many Kentuckians that use cannabis for its beneficial medical effects but can only do so by breaking the law as it now exists. Many of these Kentuckians must leave the Commonwealth to legally obtain medical cannabis in one of the 38 states where it is legal.”

Attendees of the town hall meetings recounted finding relief from medical cannabis after living with chronic symptoms for many years.  They reported an increased ability to engage in the activities of daily living after using cannabis. For them, medical cannabis proved effective, while other treatments, such as opioids, did not. 

In addition to the town hall meetings, the state’s medical cannabis website allowed Kentuckians to submit their opinions online. The website received 3,539 comments, 98.64% of which expressed support for legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky.

“I appreciate the work of those who participated, and I am taking this information into consideration as I analyze what steps I can take to legalize medical cannabis for those suffering from chronic, debilitating medical conditions,” the governor said.

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