By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear has appointed a committee to advise him on how to provide access to medical cannabis for Kentuckians suffering from chronic pain and other medical conditions despite state law that legislators prevents such executive action.
The first Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 20, at the Mayo-Underwood Building, 500 Mero St., Frankfort. It will be on the state’s Public Protection Cabinet‘s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzxEnHV5g-O3czdNjVRX5hA.
The 17-member committee plans to travel the state and listen to Kentuckians’ views on medical cannabis and provide that feedback to the governor.
Beshear has launched a new website, medicalcannabis.ky.gov, where Kentuckians can learn more about the work of the advisory committee and submit their own feedback.
“Polling suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis, while at the same time, far too many in our state who could benefit from it are suffering. It is simply time that something more is done,” Beshear said in a news release. “I want to make sure every voice is heard as I am weighing executive action that could provide access to medical cannabis in the commonwealth.”
The 17 committee members come from a range of backgrounds, including health care, treatment of opioid use disorder and other diseases of addiction, law enforcement, criminal justice and advocacy for medical cannabis. They include:
- Co-chairman Ray Perry, secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet;
- Co-chairman Kerry Harvey, secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet;
- Julie Cantwell of Rineyville, with Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana;
- Jennifer Cave of Louisville, member, Stites and Harbison law firm;
- Eric Crawford of Maysville, listed only as “advocate”;
- Cookie Crews of Frankfort, commissioner of the Department of Corrections;
- Dr. John Farmer of Louisville, OB/GYN and medical director of Solid Ground Counseling and Recovery, addiction treatment provider in Louisville, Morehead and Hazard;
- Dr. Jonathan Hatton of Whitesburg, family medicine, Mountain Comprehensive Health;
- Brian Jointer of Jeffersonville, Ind., certified public-health worker in Louisville;
- Dr. Nick Kouns of Lexington, internal medicine, Clark Regional Medical Center; Winchester;
- Alex Kreit of Cincinnati, director of the Chase Center on Addiction Law and Policy at Northern Kentucky University;
- Dr. Linda McClain of Louisville, OB/GYN, Commonwealth Counseling Center;
- Andrew Sparks of Lexington, former assistant U.S. attorney;
- Dee Dee Taylor of Louisville, chief executive officer, 502 Hemp Wellness Center;
- Julie Wallace of Morganfield, Union County attorney; and
- Kristin Wilcox of Beaver Dam, co-founder of Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis.
The news release notes that 38 states – including neighboring Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia – allow cannabis for medical use when prescribed by qualified individuals to help provide treatment for such medical conditions as cancer; epilepsy and seizures; Parkinson’s disease; Crohn’s disease; multiple sclerosis; ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease); severe and chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The state House passed medical cannabis bill for the second time this year, but it again died in the Senate, where President Robert Stivers has long said that he believes more research is needed before such a bill should pass. Stivers has said Beshear, who is running for re-election in 2023, “simply can’t legalize medical marijuana by executive order … because it’s a constitutional separation-of-powers violation.”
The Republican-controlled legislature did pass a bill to create a cannabis research center at the University of Kentucky, which will get $2 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The Democratic governor vetoed parts of the bill, largely to eliminate language that limited the purpose of the center and restricted appropriations. The legislature was unable to override the veto because it passed the bill on the last day of its session.