FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 7, 2019) – Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state and take a step toward nullifying federal cannabis prohibition in practice and effect.
A bipartisan coalition of four representatives led by Reps. Diane St. Onge and Jason Nemes introduced House Bill 136 (HB136) on Jan. 9. The legislation would legalize medical marijuana, authorize medical practitioners to recommend cannabis as a treatment for qualifying conditions, create a licensing program for medical marijuana patients, and establish a structure for the production and distribution of medicinal cannabis in the state. Only patients with specific conditions outlined in the bill could be recommended medical marijuana, and then only by their regular physician.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary committee passed HB136 by a 16-1 vote.
According to an AP report, it appears the bill has enough support to pass the House, but would likely be held up in the Senate due to opposition from Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester). Stivers called marijuana “a gateway drug” and said he had seen no credible studies showing marijuana had medicinal value other than “it makes you feel good.”
“We’re going to smoke marijuana and outlaw tobacco? That’s a little inconsistent to me,” Stivers said.
House Majority Floor Leader John “Bam” Carney (R-Campbellsville) said he would not call the bill to the House floor for a vote unless there was support on the Senate side.
While medical marijuana has become widely accepted across the U.S., the federal government still claims it is illegal.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Passage of HB136 would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition would remain in place.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Kentucky could sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Kentucky could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice.
Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. In 2018, Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana and Vermont became the first state to fully legalize marijuana through a legislative act.
With 33 states including allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
Since Senate support is crucial, if you live in Kentucky, contact Sen. Stivers and ask him to support HB136. You can find his contact information HERE.
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