Medical marijuana bill heading to Kentucky House

Published: Mar. 7, 2019 at 11:35 AM EST
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A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky is headed to the House after passing through the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday night.

House Bill 136, sponsored by Rep. Diane St. Onge, R-Fort Wright and Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, would allow Kentuckians to be prescribed medical, or medicinal, marijuana that is licensed to be grown, processed and dispensed in the state.

St. Onge said HB 136 isn't about revenue, but it is about compassion for nearly 60,000 Kentuckians living with chronic pain and other health issues.

"We feel that we are not serving the Commonwealth and her citizens well by ignoring this large population of people who cannot find any comfort," said St. Onge.

Under the bill, some of the conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana include epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn's disease.

St. Onge says if it passes, it would be the "tighest" medical marijuana legislation in the country. Thirty-three other states, including Ohio, have already legalized medical marijuana.

The bill would not allow medical marijuana to be smoked, or allow marijuana plants to be grown in patients' homes. It also limits the THC (the main hallucinogenic compound in marijuana) content of processed medical marijuana to 70 percent.

Excise tax revenue generated by the bill would be put in a trust fund to help cover medical marijuana prescription costs for indigent Kentuckians.

In February, Gov. Matt Bevin said he would support a bill legalizing medical marijuana, but it would depend on how the bill is written, adding he would be opposed to a bill written solely to raise money for the state's general fund.

Bevin added his nephew died from cancer and suffered near the end of his life, suggesting medical marijuana can provide relief to people experiencing similar pain.