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A Kentucky state senator has introduced a bill to the state legislature that would establish a medical cannabis program in the Bluegrass State, marking the third time in as many years that such a bill has been submitted.

The Bill

Kentucky Making Plans 1 Will Kentucky Be The Next State To Vote Yes On Medical Cannabis?
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The legislation up for review – known as the Cannabis Compassion Act, or BR 409 – would add a new section to the list of state statutes that would allow for the creation of a new state medical cannabis regime.

The text of the bill calls for a system in which medical patients are verified not only on their basis of need, but also for their suitability to cultivate, possess, and use the substance.

The measure also renames the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control – which currently oversees the sale and distribution of licenses related to alcohol – and instead names it the Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control (DABCC).

The DABCC would be responsible not only for crafting regulations around cannabis sales and use but also for the continued monitorization of cannabis businesses to ensure that they comply with the law.

Background

Kentucky Making Plans 2 Will Kentucky Be The Next State To Vote Yes On Medical Cannabis?
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The bill was filed by state Sen. Perry Clark (D), who has filed two similar bills in past legislative sessions. He has also in the past sought to legalize recreational cannabis, to little avail.

Clark’s recreational bill – which was not ultimately passed – was based on Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized recreational cannabis in that state in 2012.

Clark sounded off on the issue in an interview in December of last year, saying that the current approach to cannabis favored both by his state and the federal government has been counterproductive.

It is not a hard drug. It is senseless that you have cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with heroin and LSD… We have criminalized people and vilified a plant that is actually, probably, benign and beneficial to us.

Kentucky opioid epidemic

Kentucky Making Plans 3 Will Kentucky Be The Next State To Vote Yes On Medical Cannabis?
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One area in which cannabis legalization could be a great help in Kentucky is in combating the state’s twin epidemics of heroin and opioid use.

Though the entire United States has been hard-hit by the opioid crisis, the effects on Kentucky have been acute: Around 1,087 Kentucky residents of Kentucky died from opioid overdoses in 2014 alone.

According to one report, this accounted for roughly 59 percent of accidental deaths in the entire state in that year.

Opioid addicts have increasingly turned to medical cannabis for treatment. The results have been promising: One recent study found that states with medical cannabis programs have seen declines in opioid addiction.

Medical experts are also starting to get on board. According to Dr. Daniele Piomelli of the UC Irvine School of Medicine, medical cannabis shows real promise in treating addiction to opioids.

Defense attorney Mark Chandler claims to have seen firsthand the use of medical cannabis in treating opioid addiction, saying that when opiates are prescribed to patients for various kinds of pain, addiction may not be very far away.

But some people switch to marijuana instead of opiates for their pain problems, and you can see a difference. They’re so much more clear headed and able to navigate society. They’re able to work and interact with folks, much more so than if they had stayed on opiates.

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