After cannabis legislation slipped through the cracks of another General Assembly session, Gov. Andy Beshear hopes a new team can demonstrate Kentuckians’ support for medical cannabis.

In April, said he was exploring the legality of executive action on the matter and announced the formation of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Team. On Tuesday, he released the names of the 17 initial members.

“The second thing I talked about was an advisory council—one with different folks who could not only provide their advice, but also to be the ears of the administration,” Beshear said in a video released on social media. 

The team represents a wide range of backgrounds: attorneys, corrections personnel, health care professionals and cannabis advocates.

They are tasked with organizing town halls around the state and gathering public feedback regarding cannabis legislation.

Lawmakers have made several attempts in the past decade to legalize cannabis in some form.

They passed a bill legalizing cannabis oil, or “CBD,” in 2014. CBD oil is commonly used to treat chronic pain and seizures without the “high” associated with normal cannabis.

In 2015, a medical cannabis bill was introduced to the House Health and Welfare committee. It died before being brought to the General Assembly.

House Bill 136 is the latest bipartisan attempt to legalize medical cannabis. While it passed in the House in the 2022 session, it was not taken up by the Senate. A similar bill in 2020 never made it to the Senate floor.

“Like many of you, I was dismayed and frustrated when the General Assembly once again failed to pass legislation on legalizing medical marijuana,” Beshear said. “This is an issue whose time has come. So many other states have some version to provide a level of relief to the veteran with PTSD or someone suffering from chronic pain.”

Beshear’s advisory team is co-chaired by Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Kerry Harvey and Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet Ray Perry. The team consists of:

  • Dr. Amber Cann of La Grange, pharmacy coach and adjunct professor at Spalding University
  • Julie Cantwell of Rineyville, advocate with Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana
  • Jennifer Cave of Louisville, member, Stites and Harbison
  • Eric Crawford of Maysville, advocate
  • Cookie Crews of Frankfort, 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, Ind., 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 Counseling Center
  • Andrew Sparks of Lexington, former assistant U.S. Attorney
  • Dee Dee Taylor of Louisville, chief executive officer, 502 Hemp Wellness Center
  • Julie Wallace of Morganfield, Union County Attorney
  • Kristin Wilcox of Beaver Dam, co-founder of Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis
Michael is a senior studying journalism and political science at Western Kentucky University and a news reporter with WFPL and KyCIR.