In first gubernatorial debate, Cameron says he could sign a medical-cannabis bill; Keck favors exceptions to abortion law

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Tuesday night that he could sign a medical-marijuana bill as governor if it law-enforcement and medical experts “can get around a framework that is responsible.”

Cameron was one of four Republican candidates for governor who appeared in the first debate of the race, held in Louisville by Spectrum News, a cable-television service.

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck separated himself from the other three by saying “there should be some exceptions” to the law that bans abortion except in cases of threat to the woman’s life.

When Cameron ran for attorney general four years ago he was “absolutely” against medical marijuana, Nick Storm of Kentucky Fried Politics noted in his post-debate analysis for Spectrum. Then, he was the candidate of law enforcement, but now polls show overwhelming voter support for medical cannabis, Storm noted.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who came out for medical cannabis a week earlier, said whatever law the state had needs “a very narrow framework.” Keck said he “came out with this policy position months ago,” and said it is “another example of Kentucky lagging behind. . . . We need to get the Senate on board and get it done.”

The Senate has not taken up medical-cannabis bills that the House, also controlled by Republicans, has passed in two legislative sessions. Late last year, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear used his pardon power to allow people with a doctor’s certification that they have at least one of 21 specified medical conditions to possess up to eight ounces of cannabis bought legally in another state.

State Auditor Mike Harmon, who answered the question last, said “I’m not there yet, but I am open to discussion.”

The debate did not include former United Nations ambassador Kelly Craft, who declined the invitation from Spectrum and the Jefferson County Republican Party, which co-sponsored the event.

On abortion, Cameron, Harmon and Quarles said they support the current law, but Keck said, “I struggle, candidly, with this . . . I’m absolutely pro-life . . . I do believe there should be some exceptions … there has to be consideration for the woman in the event of violent trauma to them, especially in adolescence.”

Asked if they would support greater public availability of Narcan, which counteracts drug overdoses, Harmon said he would be. Cameron said local officials should make the decision, and Keck said he is “a big believer in local control.” Quarles said he would have to discuss the idea with legislators, law enforcement and people in public health.

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