UPDATE: Kentucky bill to legalize medical marijuana advances

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WBKO) -- Medical marijuana advocates have won an initial victory in trying to legalize medical cannabis in Kentucky.

Photo courtesy: MGN

A legalization measure cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a 17-1 vote Wednesday. The committee room was filled with advocates who have pressed for years to legalize medical marijuana for people battling chronic pain and debilitating medical conditions.

The bill that would also regulate medical marijuana now heads to the full House. Rep. Jason Nemes, a leading sponsor of the bill, predicted it has enough support to pass the House. It would then move to the Senate.

13 News spoke to both law enforcement and an advocate for the new bill that could legalize marijuana in the commonwealth.

"Many patients they have chosen to unfortunately break the law, they have gone, they're at wits end. Their medications haven't been working for them. And they're taking it on themselves to try cannabis," said Executive Director Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana, Jaime Montalvo.

And could potentially reduce dependency of prescription drugs, like highly addictive opioids.

"Cannabis helped me get off of opioids, it helped me reduce my muscle spasm medicine and actually get off of it," said Montalvo.

Law enforcement say they aren't against the bill if it is signed into law, but it may be difficult to identify which products are coming from a medicinal source.

"There's always the possible attempt to glean off of this and make money, and whether or not they package synthetics. Anything like that, that could potentially be harmful to our community and we want to be well aware of that," said Warren County Sheriff, Brett Hightower.

"For a patient like myself it means pain relief, it means a better quality of life overall," said Montalvo.

The bill does come with limitations. The bill prohibits the smoking of marijuana, but allows for the consumption of marijuana in other forms such as oils, pills and edibles.