Medical Marijuana Bill Advances in Frankfort - but Forbids Smoking It

A bill that would legalize medicinal marijuana in Kentucky passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 16-1. But, smoking the medicinal marijuana would not be permitted.

Thirty-three other states have already legalized medicinal cannabis.

Kentucky's bill is co-sponsored by Fort Wright Republican State Rep. Diane St. Onge, along with Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville).

“This consensus legislation was crafted based on the input of numerous stakeholders, and will improve the quality of life of our fellow citizens suffering from chronic pain and life-altering illnesses, for which no traditional medicine has been effective,” St. Onge said of House Bill 136.

The measure is the product of numerous compromises and discussions with a broad range of stakeholders, a news release said.

Notably, the bill no longer allows consumption of medicinal marijuana by smoking. It also prohibits the “home grow” element formerly in the legislation, which allowed up to six plants to be cultivated by patients themselves, and establishes a list of qualified medical conditions to provide guidelines for a recommendation.

Neither Nemes nor St. Onge support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.

“A strong majority of Kentuckians support medical marijuana, in addition to a strong majority of House members,” Nemes said. “Now is the time for us to provide our people with a remedy for ailments that numerous studies prove to be effective. It’s time for us to let the doctor decide.”

Under the terms of the legislation, the use of medical marijuana would be regulated by the Public Protection Cabinet.

The bill now advances to the full House of Representatives for consideration. It has 43 cosponsors, including members from both parties.

From the Legislative Research Commission with additional notes by RCN

Photo: St. Onge and Nemes at a press conference earlier this year announcing the legislation (LRC)