Kentucky Governor Issues Medical Marijuana Executive Order Creating Advisory Committee To Study Patient Access Options

The governor of Kentucky has appointed members of a medical marijuana committee that will conduct public hearings on the issue and advise the governor on ways he can facilitate patient access while the legislature refuses to pass the reform.

Governor Andy Beshear (D) made the announcement on Tuesday, issuing an executive order to place 17 experts on the panel that will soon travel to the state to learn more about public views on medical cannabis legislation and delve into various aspects of the matter.

“Surveys suggest that 90 percent of Kentucky adults support the legalization of medical cannabis, while at the same time, too many in our state who could benefit from it are suffering,” Beshear said in a news release.

“It is simply time for something more to be done,” he said. “I want to make sure every voice is heard as I consider executive action that could provide access to medical cannabis in the Commonwealth.”

In April, the governor anticipated plans to administratively advance the medical marijuana issue, criticizing the Senate for not listening to the will of voters and for “hindering” the reform by also refusing to hear a bill passed by the US. Room this year.

Beshear made several recent comments on the possibility of taking enforcement action on cannabis policy, but with a House-approved medical marijuana legalization bill now dead after the legislative session ended, he expressed openness to administrative action. This latest announcement marks a fundamental step in this direction.

Cabinet Secretary of Justice and Public Safety Kerry Harvey and Cabinet Secretary of Public Protection Ray Perry will be part of what is called the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee Team. Here are the other members, appointed by executive decree:

  • Dr. Amber Cann of La Grange, pharmacy coach and adjunct professor at Spalding University
  • Julie Cantwell of Rineyville, Kentuckian advocate for medical marijuana
  • Jennifer Cave of Louisville, member, Stites and Harbison
  • Eric Crawford of Maysville, attorney
  • Frankfort’s Cookie Crews, commissioner of the Department of Corrections
  • Dr. John Farmer of Louisville, OB / GYN, medical director of Solid Ground Counseling and Recovery, addiction treatment provider in Louisville, Morehead and Hazard
  • Dr. Jonathan Hatton of Whitesburg, family medicine, Mountain Comprehensive Health
  • Brian Jointer of Jeffersonville, Indiana, certified public health worker in Louisville
  • Dr. Nick Kouns of Lexington, Internal Medicine, Clark Regional Medical Center
  • Alex Kreit of Cincinnati, Ohio, director of the Chase Center on Addiction Law and Policy at Northern Kentucky University
  • Dr. Linda McClain of Louisville, OB / GYN, Commonwealth Advisory Center
  • Andrew Sparks of Lexington, former US Assistant Attorney
  • Dee Dee Taylor of Louisville, CEO, 502 Hemp Wellness Center
  • Julie Wallace of Morganfield, Union County Attorney
  • Kristin Wilcox of Beaver Dam, co-founder of Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis

Kreit is a longtime drug policy expert and activist, having founded one of the first chapters of the advocacy organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy in the late 1990s.

“The committee will meet for the first time in the near future to schedule City Hall meetings to be held across the Commonwealth,” the notice said. “Town hall meetings will be open to the public for discussion and feedback from residents, local leaders, health workers and advocacy groups. The details of the meeting will be communicated in advance “.

Additionally, the governor’s office announced the launch of a new website “where Kentucky residents can learn more about the upcoming work of the advisory committee and submit their feedback.”

“Allowing Kentucky diagnosed with certain medical conditions and receiving palliative care to grow, purchase, possess and / or use medical cannabis would improve their quality of life and could help reduce the abuse of other, more dangerous, drugs that create addiction, such as opiates, “the governor’s order says. “It would also improve Kentucky’s economy by bringing new jobs and businesses to the Commonwealth, as well as supporting Kentucky farmers.”

“In the absence of legislation legalizing medical cannabis, I am committed to reviewing what enforcement action could provide relief for Kentuckians and allow those suffering from chronic pain and other medical conditions to use medical cannabis,” he says.

A medical cannabis legalization bill by Rep Jason Nemes (R) that passed the House this year did not receive a required Senate reading before the legislative deadline to advance this session, but there were some who had hoped that its provisions could have been annexed to separate legislation before session time runs out.

It was wishful thinking, especially in light of the Senate leadership’s remarks openly challenging or opposing the idea of ​​approving medical marijuana reform this year.

Senate leader Damon Thayer (R) strongly opposes the broader policy change on medical cannabis, having warned that it is a fast track to full legalization. In March he said that House-passed medical marijuana legislation had no chance to pass this session and is “done for the year.”

“I know my constituents are in favor,” Thayer, who owns a whiskey distillery, said during a television panel in January. “But this is a republic, and they elect us to go to Frankfurt and make decisions on their behalf, and if they don’t like it, they can blame me in the next election.”


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Democratic leaders from both chambers, meanwhile, said in January that legalizing medical marijuana would be a top legislative priority for this year’s session. And in spirit, Senate minority plan leader Morgan McGarvey (D) and two other colleagues unveiled their legalization measures in February.

The complementary legislation – SB 186 and HB 521 – is nicknamed LETT’s Grow, an acronym made up of the main components of invoices: legalization of sales, cancellation of crimes, treatment through medical use and taxation of sales for adult use.

For its part, Nemes tabled an earlier medical legalization bill in 2020 that was passed in the House but later died in the Senate without a vote in the first part of the coronavirus pandemic. He reintroduced the legislation for the 2021 session, but it hasn’t advanced.

Nemes has continually expressed confidence that reform legislation would advance through the legislature if only the leadership had the “courage” to put it to a vote.

While Beshear said his goal would be to get medical cannabis into effect this year, he also said he supports legislation introduced by Representative Nima Kulkarni (D) in November that would simply prevent people from being jailed for marijuana for any use, saying it is in favor of that policy.

Kulkarni’s bill would legalize the personal possession and cultivation of cannabis, but does not provide a regulatory framework for commercial sales.

The governor also expressed support for broader legalization late last year, saying it is “time for us to join so many other states to do the right thing.” He added that Kentucky farmers would be well positioned to grow and sell cannabis to other states.

A survey released in 2020 found nine out of 10 Kentucky residents support the legalization of medical marijuana, and nearly 60 percent say cannabis should be legal “under all circumstances.”

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Pocket side images.

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