Beshear seeks input for possible action on medical cannabis

The governor will form an advisory team as he decides whether to take executive action to legalize access to medical marijuana

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday he will form an advisory team as part of a broad review as he weighs whether to take executive action to legalize access to medical marijuana.

Beshear said he instructed his legal team to analyze potential options for executive action to create a framework to make medical cannabis available for people suffering from specified medical ailments.

The Democratic governor also made a direct appeal to Kentuckians to offer their views on the issue.

“I want to be clear, I am for medical cannabis,” Beshear said at his weekly news conference. “I want it done in the right way. And we’re going to be looking at our legal options very closely. And at the same time, we want to hear from you.”

The advisory team will travel the state to gather public input and Kentuckians will be able to express their views directly to the governor’s office, he said.

The expanded review reflects the governor’s growing frustration after the latest bill to legalize medical marijuana died in the state Senate during the legislative session that ended last week.

Lawmakers failed to “get the job done,” with Kentucky falling behind the majority of states that make medical cannabis available as an alternative to opioid medications, the governor said.

“Its time has come and it can give some ailing Kentuckians relief,” he said.

Here is the response from Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester:

“The public should be concerned with a governor who thinks he can change statute by executive order. He simply can’t legalize medical marijuana by executive order; you can’t supersede a statue by executive order because it’s a Constitutional separation of powers violation.  The General Assembly has initiated an effort to conduct additional research on medical marijuana through the passage of HB 604 during this past legislative session. HB 604 establishes the Kentucky Center for Cannabis Research at the University of Kentucky to research the efficacy of medical cannabis. The Governor may speak in favor of medical marijuana, but he still has not signed HB 604 that has been sitting on his desk since April 14.  Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug and substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. KRS 218A.020 is clear that our Commonwealth incorporates the federal Controlled Substances Act scheduling structure into our state laws and further prohibits the Cabinet for Health and Family Services from rescheduling any controlled substance to a less restrictive numerical schedule as provided under federal law.  The governor indicated previously he intends to tax marijuana; we don’t tax medicine in Kentucky. If our governor truly believes marijuana should be used for medicinal purposes, taxing it would be wholly inappropriate.”


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