Committee to vote on medical marijuana Wednesday, bill's sponsor says

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Medical marijuana advocates say they still have hope that lawmakers will approve their bill, even as their efforts stalled for much of the short session.

HB 136 is on the agenda for consideration during the House Judiciary Committee meeting at noon Wednesday.

The bill was first listed as 'for discussion only,' but Rep. Jason Nemes said on social media on Tuesday evening that he had a commitment from the committee chair that it would be called for a vote.

The expected vote is the first movement for the bill since it was assigned to the committee last month, rekindling in activists, advocates and supporters the hope and confidence they had when the bill was unveiled. But the House committee is only one step in the process, and time is running out with only six legislative days remaining in the short session.

"So this is basically the Hail Mary. We need to have it heard, or we're going to be talking about this in 2020," said Robert Matheny, a medical marijuana advocate who also owns a shop in Nicholasville that sells CBD products. "These people can't wait. This is life or death for a lot of people. This isn't anything about getting high."

Three other cannabis-related bills filed in Frankfort are stuck in committee: SB 80 would legalize recreational marijuana; SB 82 would decriminalize marijuana possession; and SB 83 would establish workplace protections for public employees using industrial hemp products.

A concurrent resolution urging Facebook, YouTube, eBay and Amazon to reconsider their marketing policies for industrial hemp businesses is moving in the General Assembly. Despite the growing popularity of their products - and the farm bill making hemp legal at the federal level - they're still limited with what they can do to market themselves on some websites.

"Until all these restrictions get lifted and you can advertise on different platforms, it's definitely going to stay a little more difficult," Matheny said.

The resolution passed the House last month. On Tuesday it was reported favorably out of a Senate committee. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the state's hemp industry is growing rapidly.

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