After the Kentucky Legislature failed to send a medical cannabis legalization bill to his desk during this year’s legislative session, Gov. Andy Beshear set to work to find a path forward for the state’s patients—a path that could eventually end in an executive order to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.
Beshear reaffirmed his plans to potentially legalize medical cannabis through executive action last week after receiving an initial report from the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee Sept. 22, the Murray Ledger & Times reported.
“It’s based on the expertise of the individuals that include doctors and pharmacists as well as advocates and then those that personally have gotten relief from the use of medical marijuana, or medical cannabis,” Beshear said, according to the news outlet. “It’s also based on the input of meetings that were conducted all across Kentucky because we were committed to listening to the people of Kentucky, which parts of the general assembly have refused to. With that information, we’ll be making final determinations on actions that we could take, but there will be some actions forthcoming.”
The Kentucky House approved legislation in March to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis by Jan. 1, 2023, for a specified list of qualifying conditions. The proposal, Republican Rep. Jason Nemes' House Bill 136, prohibited smoking as a form of use and did not include home cultivation provisions.
The Democratic governor announced in April that his administration would implement a four-step plan on medical cannabis policy, as previously reported by Cannabis Business Times:
- Beshear asked his general counsel to begin analyzing options under the law for the governor to consider regarding executive action on medical cannabis.
- His administration will establish a Medical Cannabis Advisory Team.
- He will ask this advisory team to travel around the state and listen to what Kentuckians have to say about medical cannabis.
- And the governor has established a way for Kentuckians to communicate with his office specifically on the topic. They can email the governor’s office at GovMedicalCannabisAdvisoryTeam@ky.gov.
Beshear also signed into law legislation that authorized a cannabis research center at the University of Kentucky (UK). The proposal, backed by key lawmakers who were opposed to medical cannabis legalization, came to life earlier this month when the research center officially opened.
Meanwhile, the 17-member Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee, which formed in June, set up town hall meetings in different geographic regions of Kentucky to collect public feedback on medical cannabis legalization to present to Beshear.
“We’ve also been doing our legal research on what flexibility I’m going to have, and I believe there is some—it’s certainly not unlimited,” Beshear has advised the committee, according to the Murray Ledger & Times. “We do live in a nation of laws and so there are limitations to, I think, what our options will be, but I do believe that we’re going to have some of those options. … The one thing that I certainly hope that we’ll be able to act upon is somebody who can legally get something in another state, shouldn’t be a criminal in ours."