Should medical marijuana be taxed if made legal in Kentucky?

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — An issue gaining momentum in the general assembly is the push to legalize medical marijuana but that’s only part of the legislative debate.

The other is if passed, should it be taxed? It depends on who you ask.

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Governor Andy Beshear has came out in support of medical cannabis but he wants to see it taxed.

Sponsor of the bill Republican Representative Jason Nemes says there’s no way that’s happening.

Medical marijuana supporters believe this could be the year we see the drug made legal medicinally in Kentucky.

But the disagreement between state leadership and the primary sponsor of the bill is if we should make money off of it.

“There’s no bill that will be taxed on the people because if it is that means we’re going against decades of policy that we’ve set where we don’t tax medicine and before we tax medicine I’ll withdraw my bill,” says Representative Jason Nemes of Louisville.

Some medical marijuana supporters, including Governor Beshear, think the drug could bring in much-needed revenue.

“I believe we should do it in a revenue positive way. I believe we can do it in a revenue positive way that also makes it affordable for anybody who needs it,” says Democratic Governor Andy Beshear.

The governor pushed for that during his campaign as a way to help fund the ailing pension system.

Nemes disagrees.

“Governor Beshear has been a good advocate for people in the downtrodden and I commend him for that. He’s misinformed on this. It will not bring money into the state and if it does than we need to get the money back to the poor folks,” says Representative Nemes.

Republican House Speaker David Osborne, who supports medical cannabis, told reporters a bill that taxes medical marijuana would likely not pass his chamber.

“I haven’t heard one member in the legislature who wants to make money off of medical marijuana and I would say, shame on the person that does,” says Nemes.

33 states have made medical marijuana legal and Nemes is confident the bill has the votes.

Beshear hopes it moves forward in this session.

“There are people who are hurting today who need it and they’ve already had to wait too long,” says Nemes.

The bill is expected to head to the House Judiciary Committee soon for a vote.

Opponents believe there’s little research that proves marijuana actually has medicinal value and some worry legalizing this may lead to legalizing recreational use.

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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.