Kentucky bill to legalize medical marijuana advances

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WYMT) - Medical marijuana advocates have won an initial victory in trying to legalize medical cannabis in Kentucky.

Photo courtesy: MGN

A legalization measure cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a 17-1 vote Wednesday.

The committee room was filled with advocates who have pressed for years to legalize medical marijuana for people battling chronic pain and debilitating medical conditions.

Eric Crawford went to the meeting because he said he wants to stop being considered a criminal.

"A lot of stress. Worrying about the police when you're doing the right thing," Crawford said.

Crawford believes he is right to treat his numerous health conditions with marijuana. He and many others in the room said it is time to legalize its use for epilepsy, chronic pain, intolerable muscle spasms and more.

The bill that would also regulate medical marijuana now heads to the full House. The legal documents for this bill are 160 pages long. It includes everything from changing the state ABC name to 'Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control' to being regulated through the Department for Public Health cabinet. It's expected to face even more changes before it gets a House floor vote.

Users of marijuana currently smoke it, but that would change if the bill passes.

"If you smoke marijuana, smoke cannabis, even with the card, that's a violation of the law," said Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville), a leading sponsor of the bill.

Nemes said he expects floor amendments dealing with usage in terms of impairment concerns when driving a vehicle. He also predicted it has enough support to pass the House. It would then move to the Senate.

"Not a medication yet. But I'm sure there are medical properties. I think we need more clarity," said Rep. Kim Moser (R-Taylor Mill).

If the bill gets through the Senate, Governor Andy Beshear said he will sign it.

"I believe it is needed, especially for chronic pain patients that should be getting the large doses of opioid prescriptions that we currently see," the governor said.