Proponent discusses medical marijuana bill for Kentucky

Published: Mar. 8, 2019 at 6:35 PM CST
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In Frankfort, House Bill 136 made some movement this week when the House Judiciary Committee approved it.

It's another step in the fight for legalizing medical marijuana in the state although it comes late.

"The fact that we passed with a 16 to 1 launch out of committee sends a very loud message that we the people are holding our legislators accountable, so if nothing else, like that's a victory for us," said Jennifer Knapp, a member of Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana.

House Bill 136 moved out of committee Wednesday, to be considered by the House.

The piece of legislation would give doctors the ability to prescribe marijuana to treat chronic conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis with the properties provided by cannabis, like CBD and THC.

"We're patients that need this. So this affects our daily life," Knapp said.

Knapp is a clinical therapist in Bowling Green, and says she's used marijuana to treat her PTSD, supporting the cause to legalize another way to provide relief.

"I think it's incredibly arrogant to say -- this is what we have; this is what we need to use. Because science is changing daily -- the human body, the human brain is evolving all the time, and so are medications," she explained.

Over 30 states in the U.S. have medical marijuana on the books.

Marijuana's sister, industrial hemp, was legitimized by last year's Farm Bill.

Use of CBD oil derived from hemp, which does not contain the amounts of THC found in marijuana, seems to have grown in recent times.

"Hemp is a great industrial product," Knapp said. "Hemp is not a great product for medicinal care, in my opinion."

Still, others speak of its positive effects. CBD American Shaman, a CBD oil shop that recently opened in Bowling Green, said franchises successfully exist across the country, including in states with legalized medicinal, or even recreational marijuana.

"You're going to have specific people that want to go to a dispensary for certain other purposes, and you're still going to have the customers, which is the majority of our customers, that want the help without the high," explained store owner Ryan LaMot.

Although opinions differ on the issue, the desire to treat ailments with alternative remedies is not going away.

"While each legislator does have their own personal beliefs, we would just hope that our legislators would remember that they're here to represent the people of Kentucky, and for us in particular, the patients, and myself -- I can't understand why people won't rally around a medical bill for patients," Knapp said.

Kentucky's Legislative Research Commission said the bill requires a second reading, which can be done as soon as Tuesday, March 12. After that, it would be able to go for a full vote in the House.

But with only a handful of days left in this year's session, the odd's aren't in favor of getting the bill passed just yet. If that's the case, Knapp said they felt confident that it would have the ability to go through next year.