Beshear’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Beshear, a Democrat, created a Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee that held meetings around the state and reported that 98,6% of Kentuckians who offered an opinion on its website supported medical marijuana. West said actual public support is likely lower, but still high: probably 85% or above. A Kentucky Health Issues Poll found that 90% of Kentuckians favor medical cannabis.
West said the legislation will start in the Senate this time because it has passed the House twice but failed in the Senate. He said Republican senators who favor it agreed at a recent caucus that he would take the lead because he has sponsored such legislation in previous sessions, though not this year.
“Over the past five years, there’s been progress, ” he said. The House last passed a medical marijuana bill in the 2022 session by a vote of 59-34 .”I’ve been here since 2015,” said West. “And my experience is that really any large-scale bill, in any subject that requires a lot of thought, takes a good four years to make it through the process. This is not unusual.”
West said if legislators want to move the bill, they could do so quickly: “Our members are well aware of the issue and all the back and forth on it. If we wanted to move something, I don’t think it would take a great deal of time.”
At least 37 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
West told Kruser that his bill has not been filed yet because the Senate no longer allows senators to pre-file bills. He said as a starting point, he will be filing the same bill he filed in 2021 with the expectation that it will be changed during the legislative process.