FRANKFORT – House Bill 166 was not voted on during Wednesday’s special meeting, but was passed over for another session.
HB166 is a bill that would legalize and regulate medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky. The bill is designed to only allow individuals with a qualifying condition to receive an authorized physician’s approval for medical marijuana. The amount of marijuana would be limited and the access to it would be strictly monitored.
The bill specifies how many plants individuals are allowed to have, what regulations must be met for dispensaries, what training physicians must go through in order to prescribe medical marijuana and many other regulations.
Rep. John Sims was the original sponsor of the bill and the bill now has more than 20 cosponsors.
The bill must make it through the Judiciary Committee before it can be called to the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Previous bills that were pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana were not called for a vote at all in the Judiciary Committee even if they were on the agenda. Those bills were left to die and be forgotten.
On Monday, the committee allowed the bill to be heard but didn’t take a vote at the end of the session. They did however call for a special meeting on Tuesday to hear more about the bill and to take a vote.
On Tuesday, more information was presented about the bill as well as what it entails and a vote still was not taken. A third day was requested and approved for the hearing of the bill and on Wednesday even more information was delivered.
On Wednesday, the committee committed to a vote that would not kill the bill or approve it but to allow more time for the bill to be revised and tightened up before being brought back for another session.
Rep. Sims will be working with several individuals both on and off of the committee to reach a more likely passable bill.
“We are not done,” said Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana Executive Director Jaime Montalvo. “We are not giving up. The bill is not dead. We want this done and we are going to get it done.”
Rep. Danny Bentley spoke on Wednesday against the passing of the bill because of the medical inconsistencies and the possible negative side effects that THC can have on the body including an individual’s liver.
Rep. Tom Burch asked Bentley if he could provide specific examples of cases where marijuana has negatively impacted an individual’s health, but Bentley did not specify any instances.
“We are filling our prisons up with people who are smoking a joint,” said Burch. “Prohibition led to the uprising of the mafia and criminalizing drugs has, and will, do the same for drug dealers.”
Montalvo also spoke about how marijuana has not been a primary cause of a single death.
While the bill was passed over, many committee members said they supported the passing of a medical marijuana bill but not in its current form. Several who voted to pass over on the bill said they want to revisit it soon and work together to make the bill better.
“I used to be fully opposed to marijuana and I still am against the recreational use of it,” said Rep. Gerald Watkins. “But after talking with people who have cancer and other conditions that this can help, my mind was changed and I now support this bill.”
Watkins was one of the members who voted to pass over the bill and revisit it after some adjustments occurred.
The pass over motion was approved with 14 votes.