Politics

A former Kentucky congressman has formed a group that will push to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Mike Ward, a Democrat, said Monday that people should not be treated as criminals for using marijuana to relieve pain or suffering from a series of ailments.

Ward represented Kentucky’s Third Congressional District, which includes Louisville. A Democrat, Ward held the seat from 1995 to 1997, when he lost his re-election bid to Republican Anne Northup.

Ward is also a former state House member.

He will serve as CEO of Legalize Kentucky Now, a non-profit group that will urge lawmakers to allow patients to receive a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana.

The group could have some powerful allies when the 2016 General Assembly session begins Tuesday. House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed a medical marijuana bill last year. That measure stalled, but Stumbo says he would pursue it again this year if there’s a chance for passage.

During last year’s campaign, Gov. Matt Bevin said he would support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

State Sen. Perry Clark has also filed what he’s calling the “Cannabis Freedom Act,” which would lead to a broader legalization of marijuana in the state.