Kentucky secretary of state pushing legalization of medical mari - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky secretary of state pushing legalization of medical marijuana

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Ky Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes Ky Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- One of Kentucky's highest profile political leaders has come out in support of medical marijuana, but critics claim the move is just a political smokescreen.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has formed a task force to draft medical marijuana legislation.

“This is life-changing, and it's time that Kentucky steps up,” Grimes said Thursday.

Grimes said she's heard enough in her travels across the state to convince her that it is time for Kentucky to join 29 other states that have legalized marijuana for medical use.

“It's to help the pain that our veterans, our folks who are suffering from chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s or Fibromyalgia ... [or] cancer are suffering from,” Grimes said.

Grimes said the task force is not complete, but it will be co-chaired by herself and Rep. John Sims (D-Flemingsburg).

“Kentucky is being left behind, and I'm not going to sit idly by and let the voices of hundreds of thousands of folks across the state go unheard,” she said.

Democratic Sen. Perry Clark of Louisville, a long-time marijuana advocate, said he is glad Grimes has jumped on board.

“It's not the only motion that's being made on that," Clark said. "I know there are a couple of other bills that are going to be introduced, but I appreciate Secretary Grimes bringing that to us and bringing that to the forefront."

But Republicans are calling the task force a political stunt, saying medical marijuana has nothing to do with Grimes' job running elections and overseeing business filings.

“She's using state resources to grow her own political portfolio, and that's just wrong," said Tres Watson, Communications Director for the Republican Party of Kentucky. "It's not what the voters of Kentucky sent her to do as secretary of state."

But Grimes said her move toward medical marijuana is about policy, not politics.

“As a public servant, I think your No. 1 job is to look out for the people of the state and especially their health," she said. "And I hope we'll see success on this across the aisle in 2018."

The task force is to hold its first meeting next week.

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