On Thursday, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana within the state.
This comes after the Judiciary Committee voted in the bill last week in a vote of 65-30. The Legislation now proceeds to the state Senate.
If the legislation is enacted into law, patients will be in a position to access medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries, but only after the patients have been certified as suffering from a condition found on the list of qualifying conditions. The legislation would also establish a body to develop rules to govern the program and determine the various medical conditions that individuals would be suffering from to access cannabis.
The legislation would also prohibit smoking of weed and would leave the regulators to decide if they should permit the use of marijuana edibles. A minimum of 25 dispensaries will be allowed to sell medical marijuana, according to the current form of the bill.
The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes (R). In his opening remarks, Nemes said that he is proud to have been involved in the drafting of the tightest medical cannabis bill in the industry. However, he was disappointed by the smoking ban because he believes that smoking is the quickest means of delivery and can be useful for specific ailments.
The legislation has a provision subjecting the gross receipts of marijuana sales from a farmer to processor to dispensary to a 9% tax. Eighty percent of the tax proceeds would be assigned to a general state medical marijuana trust fund, and the remaining 20% would be distributed to regions where marijuana businesses are allowed to operate.
Before approving the legislation, the lawmakers passed several floor amendments, and they include;
- That the list of qualifying conditions must consist of at least chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nausea or vomiting.
- Families to return the remaining medical marijuana products to the dispensaries within ten days if the patient has died.
- An amendment prohibiting the advertisement of medical marijuana businesses.
- Allowing law enforcement to access marijuana sales data from licensed dispensaries
- Banning the sale of marijuana vaping products to people under the age of 21.
- Prohibiting dentists, podiatrists, and optometrists from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana.
- Hospitals to report instances where medical marijuana patients are diagnosed with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
- Prohibiting the sale of medical marijuana to minors and action would be taken against dispensaries that do so.
The chamber rejected a provision that would have increased the penalties for people selling marijuana purchased from the dispensary.
Matt Simon said that patients within Kentucky were relieved after the House approved the bill, but they are aware the legislation will face a considerable amount of challenges in the Senate.
Although a medical marijuana legalization bill was approved by the Judiciary Committee in 2019, it did not receive any floor action. It is uncertain how the current proposal will fare in the Senate, but the Senate President, Robert Strivers (R), agreed that 2020 might be different.
Strivers said that although there is a chance of the bill being approved in the Senate, it is minimal.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) is in favor of medical marijuana legalization as it would help fight the opioid crisis.
A poll released last month showed that out of 10 residents of Kentucky, nine were in favor of medical marijuana legalization.
Industry watchers believe that cannabis companies like Willow Biosciences Inc. (TSX: WLLW) (OTCQB: CANSF) will be hoping that the lawmakers consider the needs of patients and pass this bill so that another treatment option is available to those who need it.
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