Legislation to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been introduced in the state of Kentucky. Senator Perry Clark, a Democrat from the city of Louisville, introduced The Cannabis Compassionate Act of 2017 with the intention of organizing a regulated system of marijuana dispensaries.
The program would cover several ailments, including (but not limited to): cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, autism, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Tourette syndrome, and anxiety disorder. There are also several mental health conditions that qualify.
The southern states have been resistant to legalize medical marijuana, but the Kentucky legislation is a good sign for proponents. Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican who was elected last year, is in support of legalizing medical cannabis as is the Kentucky Nurses Association. If the legislation passes, it could have a ripple effect throughout the south.
“I hope that folks are going to see that when registered nurses say this is an important access to care issue, that folks are going to look at it as the medical and patient care issue that it is and not as a social issue,” Maureen Keenan, executive director of the Kentucky Nurses Association, said of their endorsement.
The state is already cashing in on cannabis’s cousin – hemp. Kentucky was once one of the nation’s leading tobacco producers but is quickly experiencing a hemp boom. The state was losing money due to a dip in demand for tobacco, but the switch has helped get the state out of the red. In 2016, Kentucky became the No. 2 producer of hemp in the U.S., right behind Colorado.
“There’s a lot of growers in this area that are trying hemp, and it all starts from the flailing tobacco market,” said Giles Shell, a fourth generation tobacco farmer in a recent interview with Bloomberg. “Hemp is taking off.”