Medical marijuana bill heard in House committee

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A bill that would legalize medical marijuana is on the docket in Kentucky. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee heard from committee members about why the bill should pass.

House Bill 166 came up during today’s committee meeting, for discussion only.

Committee members and other Kentucky citizens testified, explaining that medical marijuana is necessary for the state.

One reason, they say it will create extra jobs for Kentuckians, from production to distribution. They also claim it will help combat the opioid epidemic.

Several questions came from the committee, some asking how decisions will be made as to who can have access to cannabis. Those presenting say only “qualifying” patients can get it.

They have a list of qualifications they’ve based on other states’ practices. One committee member voiced concern over that list, saying some things on it, like a patient having symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, are too vague, and could apply to almost anyone. Presenters say they are open to editing they qualifications.

During the meeting, Jaime Montalvo, from the organization ‘Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana,’ clarified for the committee what the bill is, and is not, about.

“House Bill 166 is not about legalization of marijuana,” said Montalvo. “House Bill 166 is not about a party. It’s not about having fun. This is about sick patients and qualifying patients having safe access to a plant created by our creator.”

If the proposed legislation passes, individual cities and counties throughout the state will then vote on the bill themselves, deciding whether or not they will allow licensing in their localization. This is the same as with the sale of alcohol.

If the bill passes, there will be no advertisement of medical marijuana allowed, on any platform. Law will also not allow public consumption of any kind.

For safety, each medical marijuana prescription will have a state-approved seal on it, and will be distributed in containers you can’t see through, that have child-proof lids.

Montalvo says if the bill passes, it will help between 100 and 150 thousand Kentuckians.

For one family we talked to at the meeting, the legalization of medical marijuana would be life-saving.

Kristin Wilcox has a 12-year-old daughter who she says is suffering from a rare form of Epilepsy. Wilcox says she is confident medical marijuana can help her daughter, and hopes the committee recognizes that.

“They know this is coming for Kentucky,” said Wilcox. “Time is of the essence for my child and I will not back down. I will fight every one of them to the very end to get legalization for my daughter.”

The committee is expected to hold a special meeting Tuesday. That’s when members say they’ll vote.

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