Experts debate legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — Kentucky is one of 17 states where medical marijuana is not legal.

A statewide public forum exploring it and its impact on public health was held in Lexington Monday.

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It was hosted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky at the Marriott Griffin Gate Hotel and Resort.

The 17th annual Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum featured a few speakers including a cannabis consultant and pain specialist.

The question of legalizing medical marijuana has been debated at the water cooler and in the legislature.

“33 states have already passed medical marijuana and the nation of Canada has passed recreational use,” says CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Ben Chandler.

Chandler says the forum is not to change minds but to share facts and promote health as state lawmakers debate whether to legalize medical marijuana.

“Polling shows that 80 plus-percent of the public is in favor of moving to some kind of medical marijuana system and I believe it’s north of 60-percent that are in favor of actually recreational legalization,” says Chandler.

A bill to legalize medical marijuana never made it out of committee for a vote in the last legislative session.

Among the sticking points from some lawmakers, a lack of studies proving marijuana actually has medicinal value.

“We have some evidence that there’s value to it but we also have some value that there’s harmful effects and unintended consequences to it,” says pain specialist Dr. Danesh Mazloomdoost with Wellward Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Mazloomdoost says the medical community’s universal stance is that it does not feel comfortable endorsing marijuana as a medication.

The conference key speaker, Andrew Freedman, a marijuana legalization consultant, thinks marijuana should be seen as an intoxicant and not a medicine.

“I think that does the best at preventing driving while high, preventing substance abuse. Really looking at the government perspective as this is an intoxicant that your people are taking and they’re in society,” says Freedman.

Freedman says we need a path forward to allow for sympathetic patients to continue to have access to cannabis while the FDA catches up with research because people are simply tired of waiting for it.

The one day forum went from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at CBollinger@wtvq.com.