FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is calling for lawmakers to support medical marijuana in Kentucky.
Grimes says she's putting together a task force to focus on the issue. The group will study how to put a proposed bill into action and how to regulate it.
"Too many Kentuckians are suffering from debilitating physical and mental illnesses," Grimes said. "2018 is and must be the year when Kentucky finally steps up on medical marijuana. We have to get this done to help Kentuckians who are hurting."
The task force will include members of Kentucky's medical community, law enforcement, and military veterans.
State Rep. John Sims will co-chair the task force with Grimes. Sims is already drafting medical marijuana legislation for the 2018 legislative session.
"Kentucky is getting left behind on this issue. Already 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana legislation to help their people," Sims said. "The research is done. The studies have been conducted. It works, and it's time we end our idling and start having conversations to bring medical marijuana to the Commonwealth."
A 2013 Kentucky Health Issues Poll found 78% of Kentuckians support legalizing medical marijuana.
A spokesperson for the Republican Party of Kentucky says Grimes leadership on the cause is out of line and purely a political play.
"Our first reaction was laughter. This is something the Secretary of State has absolutely no responsibility over. Her job is to work with business records and administer elections," said Tres Watson.
Grimes responded to that by saying, "I'm not going to look at a cancer patient, a kid suffering, a grandmother with Fibromyalgia, or a veteran with PTSD and tell them this is not my job. This is every elected officials job, to look out for the health of the people here in Kentucky."
Watson says there are legislators in both parties on both sides of the issue and that it will be discussed by the General Assembly. However he does not think the legislation will pass. Watson says they fear legalizing medical marijuana could hurt the state's progress at getting hemp fully legalized by the federal government. He says hemp has most of the same attributes and pharmaceutical benefits as medicinal marijuana.