There is usually a lot of talk in the cannabis community about the states that have already passed medical and non-medical marijuana legalization, as well as the numerous states that have a chance to do the same this November; and rightfully so. But often lost in the shuffle are the states that still suffer under full marijuana prohibition and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Kentucky is one of those states. My original title for this piece read “Zero Traction” instead of “Little Traction.” To be fair, things have advanced some in the last 5 or 6 years. This is mainly due to a small group of activists in the state that have formed the group “Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana.” Since Kentucky is not a state where citizens can place initiatives on the ballot, KY4MM has been forced to focus on the state legislature.
There has been some progress at the statehouse, mostly due to the efforts of Kentucky State Senator Perry Clark (D). Senator Clark has introduced a medical marijuana bill in the senate every year since 2012, gaining media attention and committee hearings, but not much else.
Like many politicians, most state legislators in Kentucky want to wait for “more research” and even “FDA approval” before they will even consider cannabis as a medicine.
“We don’t use anecdotes or subjective information to make decisions,” Senator Ralph Alvarado (R) said during a recent committee hearing. “We want to have science and data behind that to approve those kind of things going forward.”
Science, you say? Data? We actually know a lot about the medical effects of cannabis, despite the federal government’s best efforts. There had been 20,000+ studies on the cannabis plant by 2010 and there have been thousands more since then. The Internet is chock full of information about the medical properties of cannabis.
But the most glaring problem, in my view, with Sen. Alvarado’s statement above is the notion that politicians need to decide for adults what kind of medicine is best for them and their children. It’s become a given that we need elected government representatives to decide on our medicine and how we treat our ailments.
Even though the Kentucky Nurses Association recently came out in favor of medical cannabis and almost 80% of people in Kentucky favor medical cannabis and, oh yeah, adults should be allowed to choose whatever substances they put in their body, especially when it comes to ailments that they – and they alone – have to suffer through, that’s not enough.
People in Kentucky will continue to be considered criminals for their choice of medicine until politicians in the state legislature get around to deciding that maybe enough data is in to vote to allow sick people a little bit of freedom in determining their own quality of life.