Hearing held in Frankfort about legalizing recreational marijuana

Published: Oct. 12, 2017 at 11:35 AM EDT
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Legalizing marijuana for recreational use is the topic of a hearing in Frankfort on Thursday.

A public forum was held with the Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection. The committee heard testimony on cannabis and public safety.

Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Police, the National Marijuana Initiative and Smart Approaches to Marijuana were representative to testify. There was also be an opportunity for people who wanted to give their opinion but are not scheduled to testify.

Sen. Dan Seum has said legalizing marijuana and taxing it could help the state dig out of the massive pension hole.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders says this situation isn't just about the pension.

"My 40 years in law enforcement tells me this is not the savior," says Sanders. "I'm not willing to risk my children and grandchildren's health to save my pension."

During the meeting a committee voted to send a letter to the Food and Drug Administration asking for continued and accelerated research.

Departments including Kentucky State Police and the Office of Drug Control Policy say they don't want it in this state. Van Ingram with the Office of Drug Control Policy says marijuana is addictive. An argument that many would debate.

"I realize a lot of folks can use marijuana recreationally and it wont cause any harm, however we do know 10 to 15 percent will form some type of addiction," says Ingram.

Supporters of the change who were not on the agenda held a news conference to discuss why they want the change.

"I trust what God made and created a whole lot more than I do something that some "mad scientists" or pharmacist is back behind some test tube trying to figure out what is good for my body," says Representative Dan Johnson, one of the lawmakers leading the effort for change. "By the way I don't smoke marijuana, but I've got friends that need it desperately."

Earlier this week, Governor Matt Bevin voiced his opposition to legalizing marijuana on a radio show in Louisville. He said as long as he's governor, he will not allow that to happen.

Sen. Seum's son, Dan Seum Jr, addressed that during the supporter's news conference, "He doesn't run our state. We run our state. We elect people to go in and do what we've asked them to do. Governor Bevin is a good man, I'm not going against Governor Bevin. I like Governor Bevin, but he is wrong on this issue."