Advocates push for marijuana decriminalization on 4/20 in Frankfort

Advocates push for marijuana decriminalization on 4/20 in Frankfort
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Wednesday is 4/20, and marijuana advocacy groups used the day in Frankfort to push a bill to get marijuana possession decriminalized.

An ounce or less on hand, that is. Advocacy leaders want this issue on the ballot.

Patrick Dunegan is the director of Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition.

“As long as you’re not driving impaired or there’s nothing else going on with you or other warrants, there should be no reason you should be incarcerated or any kind of fines,” Dunegan said.

The reason, he said, is there’s an issue with crowding in jail cells over cannabis possession. According to a report, minorities with marijuana possession are being arrested at an alarming rate.

“If I may quote the ACLU, African and Hispanics are arrested 10 times more than Caucasians in the state of Kentucky,” Dunegan said.

“Kentuckians are crying out for cannabis reform, for decriminalizing marijuana, yet this body adjourned without doing the people’s business,” said Kungu Njuguna.

This group claims lawmakers were wrapped up with other marijuana matters and couldn’t get to this issue. Although the legislative session is over, their fight continues.

Representative Nima Kulkarni is spearheading legislation for the next session that would remove criminal and civil penalties for personal possession, less than an ounce, an expungement program for people convicted of possession and if you’re 21 and older you can have up to five plants for personal use. Their ultimate goal is get this issue on the ballot and let the voters decide.

Representative Kulkarni says the U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill this month.

“There’s a clear recognition on the federal level that we must fix this huge disproportionate impact of the failed war on drugs,” Rep. Kulkarni said. “And try our level best to get everyone on equal footing.”

We spoke to the president of the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association to get his opinion on this issue, but he didn’t want to comment without reading the bill in its entirety.

Deputy communications director Scottie Ellis with Governor Beshear’s office provided this statement to WKYT:

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