The House Judiciary Committee in Kentucky voted on Wednesday (March 6) to pass a bill that would legalize medical cannabis in the state. The bill will now be sent to the Rules Committee of the Assembly.
House Bill 136 was co-sponsored by 43 members out of the 100 members in the entire lawmaking chamber. This bill intends to create a Department for Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control. This agency will then design a medical cannabis program for the state.
The agency will also be responsible for giving medical marijuana licences to patients who meet the criteria for such a licence. Healthcare providers, processors, cultivators and dispensaries will also be regulated by this agency.
16 legislators on the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the bill while one lawmaker voted against it.
Opinion polls in the state show that 80 percent of all adults think that it is okay to allow patients to have the option of using medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it. Governor Matt Bevin has also expressed his support for medical marijuana.
Despite that support from the public and the Governor, attempts to legalize medical marijuana in the state still have major hurdles to overcome.
For example, Robert Stivers, the Senate President, has been vocal in opposing medical cannabis. He even went as far as comparing it to alcohol, saying that anyone who wanted to feel better or relax can take a glass or bourbon instead of consuming medical marijuana.
The Kentucky Medical Association is also adamant that it will only support medical cannabis legislation once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of medical marijuana.
The sponsors of this legalization bill are aware of this strong opposition and made a number of modifications to the bill in order to build some consensus around it.
For example, the original bill had provisions that would allow patients enrolled on the medical marijuana program to grow a maximum of six mature plants for their own use. This was dropped from the bill.
Another change that was made regarded the qualifying conditions for which a patient could use medical marijuana. Originally, the framers of the bill had wanted doctors to use their discretion to decide which patient would benefit from medical cannabis. The bill was amended to create a specific list of conditions for which patients could be treated using medical marijuana.
It is now up to the Rules Committee to decide whether House Bill 136 can now be put before the entire House for a vote. A decision must be made quickly, since this legislative session only has five more days before it ends.
Therma Bright, Inc. (TSX.V: THRM) (OTC: THRBF) and TransCanna Holdings Inc. (CSE: TCAN) hope that the legislators make the best decision within the limited time left so that patients don’t have to wait longer for a treatment option that is already available in other states.
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