FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the first time, the Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state.
The measure — Senate Bill 47 — cleared the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee on an 8-3 vote Tuesday before it was sent to the full Senate, which voted 26-11 to pass the bill Thursday evening. It now heads back to the House for a reading before it would be sent to Gov. Andy Beshear's desk.
Medical marijuana legalization bills died in past years on the Senate side without even getting a committee hearing.
Under the measure, medical cannabis could be prescribed for a list of conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic nausea and post-traumatic stress disorder. A person would have to be approved for a card allowing its use. A patient under 18 couldn’t possess or acquire medical cannabis without assistance from a designated caregiver.
Most notably, the bill wouldn’t take effect until the start of 2025, to allow state health officials time to craft regulations to oversee the program, said Republican Sen. Stephen West, the bipartisan bill's lead sponsor.
The bill's opponents expressed sympathy for people suffering from chronic pain and other illnesses, but warned that cannabis use could become addictive and lead to use of other drugs.
Frustrated by the years of inaction, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear partially lifted the state's ban on medical cannabis last year. Beshear’s action allows Kentuckians to possess medical cannabis for specified conditions, provided it's purchased legally in other states. They need to keep their receipt for proof and need certification from a licensed health care provider to verify they have a qualifying condition.
This story will be updated.
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