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Bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky appears dead

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky appears to be dead for the 2022 session of the General Assembly.
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 3:16 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky appears to be dead for the 2022 session of the General Assembly.

The measure won approval in the House, but the Senate hasn’t brought it up for a vote.

Advocates like Julie Cantwell say they’re furious. She says her son used to have 100 small seizures every day. Now, with help from out-of-state medical marijuana, she says he’s been seizure-free for 29 months.

“We’ll do whatever we have to do, but we will help our sick children. They need this,” said Cantwell. “We’ve got 37 other states that know that this is medicine. It’s time for Kentucky to get on board.”

Senate President Robert Stivers said he wants to see more testing before moving the bill forward.

Support for medical marijuana is widespread in the commonwealth. A poll from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky says nine in ten adults support legalization.

So, what’s holding the bill back?

Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer acknowledged the disconnect earlier this year on Kentucky Tonight. He said most of his constituents support medical marijuana, but he does not.

Thayer said if voters don’t like that, they can “take it out” on him in the next election.

Political experts say it’s not unusual to go against popular opinion in situations like this.

“Just because a majority of Kentuckians would like to see medical marijuana, doesn’t mean that, for most of them, it’s a pressing issue or it’s going to decide their vote,” said Dr. Stephen Voss, UK Political Science. “If most of the people on a side of a political issue are the folks who would never vote for them anyway, then they really don’t need to take their preferences into as much account.”

Senator Thayer does not believe there’s enough support to pass medical marijuana through the Senate.

Advocates said the Senate should hold a vote anyway.

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