In a milestone moment, the Kentucky Senate has passed legislation that would legalise medical marijuana in the state.
While some legal protection for patients was recently implemented thanks to an executive order from Governor Andy Beshear, it’s less than an ideal situation. Back in January, the governor stated:
“I’m the first to admit the executive order is imperfect, because the legislature should have done this a long time ago, but it’s also fluid,” he said. “It’s not the answer, but I do hope it provides pressure.”
Governor Beshear urged lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis “this session”.
And it appears that could happen.
Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Sen. Stephen West, cleared the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee earlier last week and then passed the Senate 26-11 on Thursday. This isn’t the last stop before it hits the Governor’s desk. SB 47 now needs House approval, but that is expected given it has supported medical cannabis measures previously.
Assuming the Bill passes muster there, it’s then up to Governor Beshear to sign it – and he has already indicated he would. However, there would still be some lag between the Governor’s signature and implementation; which likely wouldn’t be until early 2025 as the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) would need time to develop regulations for implementation.
Under a program enacted by Senate Bill 47, qualifying conditions would include cancer, severe pain, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder; among others. Registered patients would be permitted possess a 30-day supply of cannabis at home, and purchases of medical cannabis would be exempt from sales and excise taxes.
No doubt Senator West was buoyed by the result. He commented prior to the vote he never intended to advocate for medical marijuana, but the more he researched it, the more he was on board. Following the vote, he commented:
“So, happy for this day! Hopefully, the House will get it across the finish line.”
Even Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer voted in favour – and he was well known for his staunch opposition to legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky.
The full details of Senate Bill 47 can be found here.