Gov. Matt Bevin says he would support a medical marijuana bill; prospects for that are better in the House than in the Senate

Gov. Matt Bevin greeted Lincoln County citizens before
his forum in Stanford. (Photo from The Interior Journal)

Gov. Matt Bevin said he would be “happy” to sign a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, depending on how it’s written, Bruce Schreiner and Adam Beam report for The Associated Press.

Bevin spoke Feb. 12 at a community forum in Stanford. AP reports that he became emotional when he talked about his teenage nephew who died in 2016 after fighting “a very hard battle with cancer.”

“There is incredible medicinal value associated with cannabis,” Bevin said. He added that patients who could benefit from medical marijuana should have access to it “where it can be prescribed and regulated as we would other such drugs.”

AP reports that the governor “was emphatic” when he said he he would not support a bill written solely to raise money for the state’s general fund. “It should be treated the same as every other drug — taxed no more or no less. To say that we’re going to do this as a way to raise money is wrong,” he said. Bevin said he did not support recreational marijuana in Kentucky and would not sign such a bill.

Several bills regarding medical marijuana have been filed during the current legislative session.

House Bill 136, sponsored Reps. Diane St. Onge, R-Fort Wright, and Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, would make medical marijuana legal in Kentucky. It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. Nemes told the AP that the bill has strong support in the Republican-led House.

“I’ve been given assurances it is going to move and I hope that it will,” he told AP. “If it does, it will pass” the House. However, Senate President Robert Stivers has said more research is needed.

Senate Bill 170, sponsored by Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, is a companion bill to the House bill. ItIt was filed Feb. 12, but through Friday, Feb. 15, it had not been assigned to a committee.

House Concurrent Resolution 5, sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, asks federal officials to expedite research on medical uses of marijuana, which could lead to its removal from the federal list of drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Marijuana has been made legal for medicinal purposes in 33 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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