LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A former Louisville Congressman announces a plan to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky.

"Over the next few years, we're going to make an effort to change the laws in Kentucky to allow people who need medically necessary marijuana to be able to use it without risking breaking the law," said Mike Ward.

Ward said he believes legalizing medical marijuana can address a wide range of health problems including nausea, chronic pain and over-reliance on prescription pain narcotics that can lead to addiction.

It's an issue that hits close to home for Ward, who lost his brother to AIDS.

“The hospital staff looked the other way as he smoked marijuana in the bathroom because they knew it could help him with his appetite. It could help him keep food down. It's hard to believe that it's been over 20 years and that hasn't changed. It's still illegal and people still have to look the other way,” said Ward.

According to Ward, 23 states have legalized some form of marijuana.

And as a former Congressman, he believes he can bring mainstream credibility to the issue and ultimately spearhead legislation, but it won't be his first time pushing for a green bill.

“Last year it got through the health and welfare committee in the house and then did not get to a floor vote,” Ward explained.

But this time around, he hopes Kentucky's new governor will back him on the issue.

“Depending on how that would be regulated, depending on how that would be prescribed, it's something I could be supportive of and I continue to feel the same way but we'll see. I'll have to see that legislation. We'll have to see how that makes its way through the House and the Senate,” said Governor Matt Bevin.

Ward said legalizing marijuana could bring more green into the state.

“Kentucky, as you know, is facing challenges in our schools, roads, drug law enforcement and, of course, our pensions. What tax revenue does come from this will be dedicated to that,” said Ward.  “I think it's time has come. It would be nice for Kentucky to be a leader, at least in our region, in anything.”

Ward served as a State Representative from 1989 to 1994 and was elected to United States House of Representatives in 1994, serving until 1997.

He plans to advocate for legislation during the 2016 regular session.

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