Registration open for free, day-long forum Sept. 23 on public-health policy considerations regarding medical marjuana

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Registration is now open for a statewide forum on medical marijuana to be held September 23 in Lexington.

The forum is not intended to change minds about whether marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes, but to share facts to inform how best to promote health, well-being and safety as state lawmakers consider new policies around medical cannabis, said Ben Chandler, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which is sponsoring the forum, titled “Medical Marijuana Fact and Fiction: Practical Public Health Policy Considerations for Kentucky.”
“Since 1996, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and public support for the idea is growing in Kentucky,” Chandler said in a press release. “Yet, most policymakers and Kentucky residents haven’t had the chance to learn how various regulatory restrictions have affected health outcomes for different population groups or what kinds of public health resources are needed when restrictions are reduced. This will be a balanced forum designed to answer a lot of questions about the issue, and give attendees the chance to engage with experts on all sides.”

The event will be the latest edition of the foundation’s Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 23, at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington. The forum is free and includes lunch, but advance registration is required.

Dr. Jeffrey Howard, Kentucky public health commissioner, will offer welcoming remarks. Other morning speakers include a keynote presentation from former Colorado “marijuana czar” Andrew Freedman, who will discuss the public health infrastructure put in place when that state legalized medical marijuana in 2000 and how public health has been affected since then, including when the state eased restrictions even further to allow recreational marijuana in 2007. (Twenty-six states have now legalized or decriminalized marijuana, not merely authorized its use for medical purposes.)

Dr. Shanna Babalonis of the University of Kentucky will provide an overview of how marijuana has changed in recent decades, and Brian Higgins, a Frost Brown Todd attorney, will share how marijuana is regulated across the country today. Following lunch, attendees will choose two of three panel discussions, each with three speakers and an opportunity for moderated audience discussion:

  • Health Impacts on At-Risk and Underserved Populations, moderated by Miranda Sloan, Kentucky Psychiatric Medical Association
  • Persons with Mental Health Disorders: Dr. Shanna Babalonis, University of Kentucky
  • Accidents, poisonings and crime: Will Jones, Smart Approaches to Marijuana
  • Infants/Children/Youth/Pregnant Women: Dr. Kathy Hager, Kentucky Nurses Association
  • Revenues and Outlays, moderated by Dr. Brent Wright, University of Louisville
  • Who can grow and sell products, what kinds of products and where: Evan Ogburn, Pharm-CBD
  • Expected State Revenues and Expenses: Beau Whitney, New Frontier Data
  • Testing and Quality Control: Lisa Gill, Consumer Reports
  • Future of Cannabis Regulation, moderated by Anthony Zipple, Consultant and former CEO, Centerstone of Kentucky
  • Regulation Considerations for Kentucky: Jaime Montalvo, Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana
  • Prescriber, Distributer and Public Education: Dr. Danesh Mazloomdoost, Wellward Regenerative Medicine
  • Cannabis and the Justice System: Ed Monahan, NAPD Fund for Justice
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