FRANKFORT --- The Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee approved a bill that would allow people suffering from conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), and HIV/AIDS to use medical marijuana by a vote of 9-5 today, following a public hearing. The Cannabis Compassion Act, or HB 350, introduced by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) and co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Tom Burch (D-Louisville), would permit licensed patients and caregivers to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana, and it would establish regulations to operate a limited number of medical marijuana compassion centers and testing facilities.
This is the first time an effective medical marijuana bill has passed a committee in the Kentucky Legislature. A similar bill, SB 43, was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville).
"Patients suffering from a wide range of medical conditions are grateful to have earned this committee's support on HB 350," said Matt Simon, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Chairman Burch and his committee have taken a stand in favor of protecting seriously ill Kentuckians, and they should be applauded for doing so."
Rep. Marzian explained that medical marijuana can help many patients for whom prescribed medications have been ineffective. "I have seen the bags of medicine that are not working, that are causing addiction ... this conversation needs to continue to give our state hope."
Nearly 80% of Kentucky adults think people with serious illnesses should be allowed to access and use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctors recommend it, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released in May 2013.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws that allow people with certain debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. At least 15 additional states will consider medical marijuana bills this year.