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Democrats Propose Bill To Legalize Medical Cannabis In Kentucky

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Kentuckians with certain medical conditions would be able to get a prescription for cannabis under a bill filed by two Democratic lawmakers and promoted by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The 65-page bill would make it legal to smoke, ingest or grow cannabis -- the scientific name for marijuana -- with a prescription and would be regulated by the state agency that deals with alcohol production and sales.

Grimes said the proposal would provide relief to Kentuckians who cope with pain but don’t want to take addictive painkillers.

“Kentuckians are begging for an alternative to opioids and prescriptions,” Grimes said. “The natural remedy is what they are asking for to help with the illness and ailments.”

So far, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have approved medical cannabis policies.

House Bill 166 would allow people with medical conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, terminal illnesses or diabetes to get prescriptions for cannabis. It would set up a three-tiered system of cultivators, distributors and retailers regulated by the Kentucky department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Patients would also be allowed to possess up to 12 cannabis plants and 12 seedlings under the proposal.

During a press conference on Thursday, army veteran Eric Pollack said there’s support among veterans who suffer from PTSD and want an alternative to mood-altering medications.

“It’s hurting them. They’re committing suicide,” Pollack said. “The mental pills, it makes you not who you are. It makes you have these issues.”

Lawmakers have discussed cannabis legislation several times in recent years but proposals haven’t gained momentum. Legislators from both political parties have proposed legalizing the drug in some form this year — including a scheme to generate tax revenue for the state’s ailing pension systems.

Gov. Matt Bevin has said he would consider signing a medical cannabis bill if the legislature passed one, but he has thrown water on the idea of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

Nearly 80 percent of Kentucky voters support allowing medical marijuana, according to a 2012 Kentucky Health Issues Poll.