Kentucky Secretary of State pushing medical marijuana legalization

Is it another step forward to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky or a legislative task force with no bite?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Despite her party’s minority status in both the Kentucky House and Senate, Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes formed a task force to work on legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use.

The task force met for the first time Tuesday in Frankfort and no members of the majority party took part in the meeting despite past suggestions that GOP Governor Matt Bevin may be receptive to legislation regarding the medicinal use of marijuana.

When pressed after the meeting as to whether she invited any Republican lawmakers to take part, Secretary Grimes would not answer directly only saying, “Our office reached out to the public at large, anyone who wanted to be here today, that the meeting was opened and publicized and especially with your all's efforts. So we didn't restrict access to anyone. Obviously, this was a very quick first meeting so there's a lot of schedules today that unfortunately could not be here.”

During the meeting she commented about questions that had been made about why the Secretary of State, of all state office holders, would find it important to take on medical marijuana.

“Many have questioned why as secretary of state is this a topic of interest”, Secretary Grimes told the task force, “I became aware of those who are struggling, the thousands of folks who are struggling across this Commonwealth because of my work with veterans.”

While there were advocates from several sectors, it was a pair of US Army veterans who drew the most attention. Brad Steiner and Eric Pollack described side effects of PTSD treatments that included opioids.

"I had this shotgun to my head”, said Pollack, “and it wasn't all that long ago. My wife had the vision to say you should get off the pharmaceutical psych drugs.”

Another advocate shared a breakdown of how Kentucky could legalize medical marijuana in 15 area development districts that would require licenses for each aspect of business and prescribed users. He also laid out enforcement plans that would prevent any cannabis operation from being located within 1,000 feet of a school.

But the lead lawmaker behind this bill is a freshman Democrat, a member of the Kentucky House super minority so we asked Secretary Grimes the obvious questions: Is this Kentucky Medical Marijuana Legalization Task Force toothless? Does it have any power?

She answered, “Well I think that power is derived from the people. That's what government is all about and, from what I heard all across Kentucky, since we just announced the formation of this task force it's been an overwhelming positive response. So, I think that the people of Kentucky will have their voice heard and I'm hopeful that this will be a bipartisan effort.”

Secretary Grimes scheduled the next task force meeting for December 19th and hopes to get a bill to the General Assembly during the session that starts in January.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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