Rep. Cluster Howard pre-files bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Published: Dec. 17, 2019 at 11:09 AM EST
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State Representative Cluster Howard pre-filed legislation recently that would legalize recreational cannabis for adults in Kentucky.

As part of the proposal, a large portion of the tax and license revenues from cannabis sales would go to unfunded liabilities in Kentucky’s retirement system.

The bill would also decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and provide free expungement for people convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor.

"With our crowded jails, my bill is a sensible step we need to take,” said Representative Howard.

25% of tax and license revenue from the cannabis would be provided to the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.

“Putting that money toward public pensions would free up other state revenues for things like our public schools and universities, and we would see even more money from related economic development and reduced prison, court and drug-treatment costs,” said Howard.

Howard added that Michigan just reported that in the state’s first eight days of recreational cannabis sales, income reached $1.6 million.

“Other states have shown that legalizing cannabis for adult use is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Representative Howard. “It’s a major revenue generator.”

The bill calls for the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to oversee four types of licensing – cultivator, processor, tester, and retailer. Each license would have to be renewed annually.

Anyone with a previous misdemeanor marijuana conviction that has not been expunged, has been convicted of a felony in the last five years, or convicted of another controlled-substance crime within the past two years would be unable to purchase a license.

Per the legislation, each county could have at least two retailers selling cannabis and related products, but larger counties would be barred from having more than one per 2,300 people. Retailers would only be able to sell marijuana-related products.

Sales would be limited to those 21 and older, and smoking cannabis in public would be prohibited.

Representative Howard’s legislation will be considered during the General Assembly’s 2020 session, which starts in January.

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