LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentucky legislators are working to legalize medical marijuana, but residents won't be able to light up — even if lawmakers succeed.
With a 17-1 vote, the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly approved House Bill 136, which legalizes medical marijuana, for the second year in a row Wednesday. The bill moves to the full House next, and — unlike the 2019 legislative session — supporters are confident of its final passage in 2020.
Advocate Eric Crawford provided lawmakers with emotional testimony in favor of medical marijuana Wednesday. He told them about the 1994 accident that left him paralyzed — and how medical marijuana helps him to cope.
"I choose to use cannabis as my medicine, instead of addictive opioids," said Crawford, who gave similar testimony while House Bill 136 was up for approval in 2019. He urged lawmakers Wednesday to legalize medical marijuana so he can stop living in fear.
"I would not have to lay awake at night worried about the law enforcement coming to my home," Crawford said.
State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-District 33, said he has made changes to House Bill 136 in an effort to improve its chances of passing. One of the changes is the bill's no-smoking provision, which means medical marijuana users won't be able to light up if the legislation is signed into law.
"I want to talk to you as a man," Nemes said. "I want to talk to you as a husband and a father, a brother, a son, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, a friend. This is right. This is good."
Some concerned lawmakers urged caution, however, and more research into the effects of marijuana.
"What we don't want to see is unleashed another mistake — if I can be kind to call the opioid crisis a mistake," said Kent Ostrander, with the Family Foundation of Kentucky.
"I think, without serious questions being answered, we're not really sure that we're doing no harm," added State Rep. Kim Moser, R-District 64.
Supporters said they are confident that, unlike 2019, the bill will get a vote in the full House of Representatives.
"Got several steps to go," Crawford told reporters after the committee vote. "We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but we're ready to go.
"It's going to pass," he added. "We've got the votes."
"This is a question for the Senate," he said. "It's gonna pass the House. No doubt about it."
Medical marijuana is already legal in 33 states.
Copyright 2020 by WDRB Media. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.