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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky senator is once again pushing to legalize medical marijuana statewide. Today, the senator and his supporters received a public hearing in the Health and Welfare Committee.
State Senator Perry Clark has tried before, but this year he's going a different route, and he's confident his bill will see a vote this legislative session.
The room was packed as patients rolled in to share their stories of pain and healing. As many said they are framed as criminals in the state of Kentucky.
"I am a medicine user, I am not a drug abuser," said Chuck Thompson.
Sen. Clark received a hearing in 2012 in the judiciary committee but the proposed legislation never got further than that. He says his odds are better this time around.
Clark says he has been told by medical professionals that he would benefit from using medical marijuana. He suffers from chronic pain. He told the lawmakers that Kentucky is falling behind, as other states legalize the drug. "21 states have done it, they're going forward with it. There is no sense in Kentucky being timid, we should be a freer and braver state."
Irvin Rosenfeld--one of four federally prescribed medicinal marijuana patients--told the legislators that cannabis is the only thing that works for his pain. He received the prescription through a program that was shut down in 1982. "This tin can would normally have 300 cigarettes in here and I go through this every 25 days and have for nearly 30 years."
But not everyone is sold on the idea of legalizing medical cannabis. "I will not support anything that is going to increase Kentucky's dependence on drugs. Period," said Representative Robert Benvenuti (R-Lexington). He said he wants more evidence of its benefits before even considering the issue. "My vote won't come until I'm assured that it can be delivered, safely, effectively and that the medical evidence stands behind it."
While others are still unsure where they stand. Like Representative Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), who says he isn't really sure what 'medical marijuana' means. "What benefit if any is there from legalizing marijuana. What they call medical marijuana. I'm unsure as to what medical marijuana is," he says he wants more clarity before taking a stance.
There is still time for lawmakers to decide, as this is only the beginning of the debate on the issue this legislative session.
The bill will officially be introduced in January.