Kentucky Politics

A bill that would legalize marijuana for medical use passed out of a Kentucky legislative committee on Wednesday.

The bill would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for several medical conditions and create a regulatory system for the growth, sale and use of marijuana products. The legislation would not allow the marijuana plant to be smoked.

Eric Crawford, an advocate for the bill, says he uses marijuana to ease painful symptoms he suffers as the result of a car accident more than twenty years ago.

“I am viewed as a criminal in the state I love. I choose to use cannabis as my medicine instead of addictive opioids and other dangerous pharmaceuticals for my constant pain and ungodly muscle spasms,” Crawford said.

The bill would legalize the use of marijuana products like edibles and vaporizers. It would also allow the sale of marijuana plant, but dispensaries would have to label that it is not intended for consumption by smoking. Those caught smoking marijuana could be fined $100.

Louisville Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, the bill’s sponsor, said that he would prefer a more expansive version of the measure but that “this is the bill we can pass.”

“We will continue to move it forward and try to improve it,” Nemes said.

The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 17-1 with one pass vote.

Taylor Mill Republican Rep. Kim Moser was the only lawmaker to vote against the bill, saying that more research needs to be done on marijuana before it can be considered medication.

“We’re not really sure we’re doing no harm. I think we don’t have clear answers to the indications, we don’t clearly know how to dose the medication,” Moser said. “I’m sure there are medical properties, we just need a little more clarity.”

Forest Hills Democratic Rep. Chris Harris voted in favor of the measure, saying it would give people an alternative to addictive opioids.

“I see this as a useful tool in the toolbox for doctors and an awesome option for people who don’t want to be addicted to narcotics,” Harris said.

A similar medical marijuana bill passed out of the same committee last year, but it never received a vote in the full House.

This year supporters are hopeful the measure has a better chance of passing, touting 51 cosponsors, including Republican House Speaker David Osborne.

Last week the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released a poll showing 90 percent of Kentuckians support legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.