Lawsuit filed against Bevin, Beshear over law banning medical ma - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Lawsuit filed against Bevin, Beshear over law banning medical marijuana

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Three Kentucky citizens who use medical marijuana have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear over the state’s law banning the drug.

The suit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court on Wednesday by attorneys Dan Canon and Candace Curtis, argues Kentucky lags behind more than half of the country that allows patients suffering from chronic pain to use medical marijuana instead of “dangerous and addictive” opioid and other prescription drugs.

The suit claims laws prohibiting the trafficking and possession of marijuana are “unconstitutional” when applied to these citizens and “thousands of other medical cannabis users in Kentucky” who have a “legitimate and dire need for medical cannabis.”

For the plaintiffs and others in Kentucky, conventional medicine does not work for them and cannabis, which does provide relief, is criminalized, causing an “unjust hardship," according to the suit.

"The law here simply doesn't make sense," Canon told reporters. 

Thousands of people in Kentucky are “left with the unconscionable choice to either live in permanent pain from their illness, risk taking highly addictive and proven deadly opioids … or live as criminals for their use of cannabis to treat their illnesses,” according to the suit.

"The bottom line here is cannabis helps such people," Curtis said at a press conference. "It is safe and it works."

By prohibiting the use of medical marijuana, the state is infringing on the right to privacy and preventing people from getting medicine that would treat their illness, the suit claims.

Amanda Stamper, a spokeswoman for Bevin said, the office is "in the process of reviewing the lawsuit."

A spokesman for Beshear said they just found out about the lawsuit and are looking into it. 

The plaintiffs include Dan Seum, who said he became addictive to narcotics after suffering a back injury. Seum is now using cannabis and because of that “no pain management doctor will treat him.”

“Mr. Seum is left with an impossible choice: Should he stop using cannabis and experience excruciating pain in order to explore the chance that another pain management option might be more effective? Or should he continue using cannabis, preventing him from receiving medical care from Kentucky doctors for the rest of his life?”

Plaintiff Amy Stalker endured side effects such as seizures while trying to treat her bipolar disorder, which is now being managed by her use of cannabis, according to the lawsuit.

She legally used medical marijuana while living in two other states but had to come back to Kentucky because of a family illness and here "she is treated as a criminal," Canon said. 

And Danny Belcher is a Vietnam Veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and a spinal injury, who switched to using cannabis “because pharmaceutical drugs were ruining his quality of life,” the suit claims.

Seum and Stalker said at the press conference that they have met repeatedly with Kentucky lawmakers, to no avail.

Behind closed doors, Seum said, most Kentucky lawmakers understand his plight and agree with the use of medical marijuana "yet they won't move. 

"I don't know what it's going to take in Frankfort but that's why we are here now," he said. 

Stalker said "this is our last avenue."

The suit argues that in addition to addictive and dangerous narcotics, tobacco and alcohol are also legal, despite numerous negative side-effects and thousands of related deaths each year.

“Cannabis, on the other hand, has no serious harmful side effects for patients who use it properly,” the lawsuit argues.  “Even though cannabis is significantly less dangerous than prescription drugs prescribed by physicians every day, it somehow continues to be ranked as a Scheduled I controlled substance, inaccurately labeling it as being more dangerous than prescription drugs.”

Kentucky, according to the suit, has the third-highest opioid overdose death rate in the country while states that allow medical marijuana have seen a drop in drug abuse.

Citizens here are being incarcerated for marijuana use and medical researchers are prevented from studying the possible benefits of cannabis “even though it could help in the fight against Kentucky’s opioid epidemic.”

The suit is seeking a jury trial and an injunction allowing the plaintiffs to use medical marijuana..

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