Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order June 14 to create a 17-member advisory board to assist his office on a path forward for medical cannabis legalization in the state.
The Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee will be co-chaired by Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Kerry Harvey and Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet Ray Perry.
Other committee members have relevant experience in health care, treatment of opioid use disorder and other diseases of addiction, law enforcement, criminal justice, and advocacy for medical cannabis. (See the complete list of members below).
“Polling suggests 90 percent 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 press release announce the advisory panel. “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.”
Specifically, a February 2020 Kentucky Health Issues Poll showed that nine out of 10 Kentucky adults favored legalizing cannabis for medical purposes.
Beshear’s executive order comes roughly two months after weighing his executive authority on effecting policy changes following the Kentucky Senate failing to act on a House-passed bill that aimed to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to patients for six qualifications: cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy/seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
That legislation drew bipartisan support in the House, but, just like an earlier version of the bill, was killed in the Senate without a vote.
RELATED: Kentucky Governor Takes Issue With Senate Inaction on Medical Cannabis
In an April news conference, Beshear lambasted the Senate and laid out a four-step plan to move forward on medical cannabis legalization from his office. That plan included asking his general counsel to analyze executive options on cannabis policy; establishing the advisory team; asking the advisory team to travel the state and seek feedback from Kentuckians; and providing a channel for state residents to communicate with his office specifically on the topic via email: GovMedicalCannabisAdvisoryTeam@ky.gov.
The newly named committee members will soon travel the state and listen to Kentuckians’ views on medical cannabis and provide that feedback to the governor, Beshear announced June 14. The other 15 members of the advisory committee are:
- Dr. Amber Cann of La Grange, pharmacy coach and adjunct professor at Spalding University;
- Julie Cantwell of Rineyville, advocate with Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana;
- Jennifer Cave of Louisville, member, Stites and Harbison;
- Eric Crawford of Maysville, advocate;
- Cookie Crews of Frankfort, commissioner of the Department of Corrections;
- Dr. John Farmer of Louisville, OB/GYN, 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;
- 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, CEO, 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 committee will meet in the near future and schedule town hall meetings throughout Kentucky that will be open to the public for discussion and feedback, according to the release.
Committee members will serve two-year terms and report directly to the governor’s office, according to the executive order.
Beshear also announced the launch of a new website where Kentuckians can learn more about the upcoming work of the advisory committee and submit feedback. The website is medicalcannabis.ky.gov.
Currently, 37 states have legalized the commercial sale of medical cannabis without low-THC restrictions to qualifying patients. Other states, like Texas, which has a 1% THC cap on medical cannabis, have made less-broad policy changes.
Under Kentucky’s current law, a first-time offense for the possession of up to 8 ounces of cannabis carries a maximum penalty of 45 days of incarceration and up to a $250 fine, according to reform organization NORML.
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