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On February 20, 2020, the Kentucky House of Representatives succeeded in passing legislation that legalized medical marijuana. In the week prior, the Judiciary Committee voted on the bill with a vote of 65–30 in favor. With both branches of government in agreement, the legislation will advance to the Kentucky Senate.
Once the bill has been approved by the Senate, the legislation will be ratified into law, which will give patients access to medical cannabis. To be eligible, a patient must be certified as suffering from any of the conditions found on the state’s list of qualifying conditions. Medical marijuana legislation will also create governance in the program for rules to be developed and coordinate a list of medical conditions that would classify what individuals may be suffering from to acquire cannabis.
Through this legislation, smoking of cannabis would be prohibited and regulators will have to determine if cannabis edibles should be permitted. The current bill will allow a minimum of 25 dispensaries to sell medical marijuana (1).
Kentucky’s new legislation includes a provision that subjects the gross receipts of cannabis sales from a farmer to processor to dispensary with a tax of 9%. A general state medical marijuana trust fund would receive 80% of the tax proceeds, while the last 20% is to be distributed to regions where marijuana businesses are granted to operate.
Before the medical cannabis legislation was approved, lawmakers were able to pass several floor amendments which included:
• An amendment that prohibited the advertisement of medical marijuana businesses (2).
• A list of qualifying conditions that must comprise of illnesses such as: epilepsy, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, vomiting, and nausea.
• If a patient has passed away, families are required to return any remaining products to the dispensaries within 10 days of their death.
• Law enforcement is allowed access to cannabis sales data from the licensed dispensaries.
• Medical professionals such as optometrists, dentists, and podiatrists are prohibited from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana to their patients.
• Marijuana vaping products are banned from being sold to individuals under 21 years of age.
• Hospitals are required to report occurrences when patients are diagnosed with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS).
• Selling medical marijuana to minors is prohibited and action will be taken against dispensaries who neglect this amendment.
Though many are in support of the medical marijuana legalization bill, it has received some friction in the Senate. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) believes that legalizing medical cannabis will help aide in the fight against the opioid crisis. Senate President, Robert Strivers (R), mentioned that although there is a chance of the bill being approved by the Senate, it is minimal (1).