FRANKFORT- There has been new fire lit in Frankfort surrounding medical marijuana–but Senate President Robert Stivers isn’t on board just yet.
While there has been enthusiasm surrounding medical marijuana after a Republican sponsored bill was filed in the House, in the Senate it could have a hard time even being heard. President Stivers says he needs to see evidence of the medicinal qualities of cannabis before he’ll allow it to be heard in committee.
"Show me the three-tier studies where there is control groups that say there is medicinal or therapeutic values to the use of marijuana," he said. "I think it really needs to be studied, because the studies that are out there tell you carcinogens in marijuana are 150 percent greater than that which is in tobacco. An ophthalmologist called me and said we have drugs that are better for glaucoma and reducing the pressure and don’t have the half life as much as marijuana."
The American Lung Association has said smoking marijuana does damage the lungs, but has not taken a stance for or against medical marijuana. Rather, they advise consulting with a medical doctor before deciding to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Sen. Dan Seum has filed Senate Bill 80, which would regulate recreational marijuana use in the state; something that Stivers says he isn’t for.
"Recreational marijuana, I could never be for," he said. "That is very clear, very plain."
Reps. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, and Diane St. Onge, R-Fort Wright, filed legislation Tuesday to allow medical marijuana in the Commonwealth.
The 143 page bill makes several changes to the failed 2018 legislation. House Bill 136 requires anyone using, selling or prescribing to be licensed. It will allow patients to grow their own marijuana. Qualifying patients will be able to have six adult plants and six seedlings. Home growing was included for several reasons, they say: To allow access for patients who may not be able to afford buying from a dispensary and for patients who live in rural parts of the state where it may not be practical for them to drive to a dispensary.
One aspect of the bill that is different than most other states is the pre-existing condition clause. Most medical marijuana laws have a list of qualifying conditions a patient must have in order to get a medical marijuana card. The version leaves it up to the doctor to decide if marijuana is a good treatment for a patient. Nemes refers to it as a “trust your doctor bill.”
The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee.