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Kentucky Governor Prepared to Take Action After Advisory Committee Report

Kentucky Governor Gov. Andy Beshear (D) stated last week that he would receive a report from a medical marijuana advisory committee that he had convened, and “there will be some actions forthcoming.”

Gov. Andy Beshear (D) put a 17-member advisory committee together via executive order in June to get recommendations about possible marijuana and cannabis reforms, including reforms that can be enacted administratively.

Since then, the advisory panel has held several town hall meetings to receive public testimony on cannabis reform.

Governor Beshear said at a press conference last week that he received the advisory committee’s “initial report” and that the recommendations made by the committee were “based on the expertise of doctors, pharmacists, advocates, and patients who have personally gotten medicinal benefits from the consumption of medical cannabis or medical marijuana.”

The additional reforms are based on the input of the committee meetings conducted across Kentucky, in which it is alleged that the committee listened to the citizens of Kentucky, including discussions and points the General Assembly refused to listen to. Beshear stated, “With the information gathered by the committee meetings, we will be making final determinations on which actions we could take, and there will be some forthcoming actions.”

In the summer of last year, Beshear mentioned that it was time to do more than what had already been done. The governor wanted to make sure that every voice had been heard before he started implementing action that would provide access to medical cannabis within the commonwealth.

In April, the governor previewed the plans to help advance the issue of medical cannabis and marijuana administratively, publicly criticizing the Senate for failing to listen to what voters had to say and for “obstructing” cannabis reform by refusing to even give a hearing to a House-passed bill this year.

In addition to the statement above, the governor has made several recent comments about the possibility of taking executive action on marijuana and cannabis policy. However, with a House-passed medical marijuana legalization bill left to die after the end of the legislative session, Beshear expressed his openness to administrative action.

Kerry Harvey, the Secretary of theJustice and Public Safety Cabinet, and Public Protection Cabinet Ray Perry are among the members who have served on the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee, which Governor Beshear convened.

The governor’s office further announced the launch of a committee website designed to help residents learn more about the advisory committee’s work and even submit their feedback.

“Allowing Kentucky residents diagnosed with certain medical conditions and receiving palliative care to cultivate, purchase, possess, and/use medical cannabis would improve the quality of their lives and help reduce abuse of dangerous and highly addictive medications, such as opiates,” the governor’s executive order stated. “It would also improve the economy in Kentucky by bringing new jobs and businesses in Kentucky’s Commonwealth, and support farmers within the state.”

“In the absence of legislation surrounding the legalization of medical cannabis, I am committed to reviewing what executive actions could provide relief to the residents of Kentucky and allow residents suffering from medical conditions to use medical cannabis,” the governor’s office.

A medical cannabis legalization bill for Rep. Jason Nemens ( R ) that passed the House this year did not get approval from the Senate reading ahead of a legislative deadline to advance this next session. However, some had hoped that its provisions could have been attached to separate legislation before time ran out on the session.

However, the legalization was wishful thinking, especially in light of the remarks made by Senate leadership. These remarks challenged or outright opposed the idea of passing medical cannabis and marijuana reform this year.

Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer ( R) opposes any changes to the broader medical cannabis policy change and has warned that it’s a fast track to full legalization. In March, Thayer stated that the House-passed medical marijuana legislation had no chance of passing this session, and it’s “done for the year.”

Thayer owns a whiskey distillery and mentioned during a televised panel in January that he knew what his constituents would be. However, “This is a republic, and they elect us to go to Frankfort and make decisions on their behalf – and if they don’t like it, they can take it out on me in the next election.”

In January, Democratic leaders from both chambers mentioned that legalizing medical marijuana and cannabis is a top priority for this year’s legislative session.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey (D) and two other democrat leaders filed their legalization measures in February.

The legislation was dubbed LETT’s Grow, an acronym built on the bill’s main components:

    • Legalizing Sales
    • Expunging crimes
    • Treatment through medical use
    • Taxing of adult-use sales

Earlier in 2020, Nemes filed an earlier medical legalization bill that passed the House soundly but later failed to pass the Senate without a single vote amid the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nemes later reintroduced the same legislation again in 2021 but was met with the same results.

Nemes has continually expressed confidence in the fact that the reform legislation would advance through the legislative process if leadership dared to put the reform to the vote.

While Governor Beshear has said that his focus would be on ensuring medical cannabis is enacted this year, he also supported the legislation introduced by Rep. Nima Kulkarni (D) in November.

The legislation would prevent people from being incarcerated over cannabis and marijuana for any use.

Rep. Nima Kulkarni’s (D) bill aims to legalize the possession and personal cultivation of cannabis and marijuana but does not provide a regulatory framework for commercial sales.

Beshear further voiced support for broader legalization in late 2021, saying it’s “time we joined other states in doing the right thing,” referring to other states’ cannabis reforms. He mentioned that Kentucky farmers would be well positioned to sell and grow cannabis and marijuana to states around Kentucky.

A poll released in 2020 found that nine out of ten residents of Kentucky support cannabis and medical marijuana legalization, and nearly 60% said that cannabis should be legal under “any circumstances.”

A poll released in 2020 found that nine out of ten residents of Kentucky


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