Paying for pensions with pot?

Should Kentucky pay for pensions with pot?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Many Kentucky Republican lawmakers are hesitant to raise taxes but they know something must be done to solve the state's pension crisis.

Senate Majority Caucus Chair Dan Seum is calling for a new revenue stream, medicinal and recreational Marijuana.

“Well, I want to legalize cannabis, if we're talking politically correct,” said Sen. Seum. “It's not marijuana any more, it's cannabis.”

The 38th District Republican laughed when I asked, “I didn’t think there was anything politically correct about Dan Seum?”

Some might argue it's tough to find a less politically correct Kentucky Lawmaker than Senator Seum. Last year he called for a return to neighborhood schools, critics called that an effort to end bussing in JCPS. Years ago, he pushed for expanded casino gaming.

Now, as lawmakers prepare for a special session to tackle the pension crisis, he's proposing a plan he claims will bring jobs and at least $100M per year to Kentucky coffers.

“Now we've got this problem with this pension issue. Depending on who you want to talk to, it's 30 to 50 billion, whatever that number is nobody seems to really know but we know it's a horrendous number. We have got to find a way to pay for that,” insists Seum.

“The question would be are we going to increase taxes or are we going to create new pots of money?” he asked.

Senator Seum had no exact figure to answer my question as to how much marijuana a Kentuckian would be allowed to possess but he compared the proposal to what Colorado has done.

He says he wants to see it legalized for "adult use" and "medicinal" purposes.

A colon cancer survivor, Senator Seum credits a derivative for helping him cope with chemotherapy.

“The pill that I took to keep the nausea away was a derivative of the marijuana, the cannabis. It does have medical value and a lot of people swear by that so, it's one of god's plants. It's out there,” he said.

"A jobs bill is how the 38th District Republican described the proposal that he admits may have to be introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives because it's a revenue generator.

He insists though that there are Republican lawmakers in the House who are ready to sign on to support the plan although he would not identify those lawmakers.

But even if lawmakers pass the plan, is there a chance that Governor Matt Bevin sign it into law?

“I think there's, yes,” answered Sen. Seum. “Because desperation just might dictate that. Where does this billion dollars come from if not out of their pockets?”

We asked Governor Bevin's office for comment and were directed to a talk radio interview from last month in which he said he would not legalize marijuana.

During our interview with Senator Seum he acknowledged that the General Assembly has overridden Governor Bevin's vetoes before having done so this year.

There is a forum scheduled for Thursday at the Capitol in which Kentucky Senators and Representatives will discuss "Smart Approaches to Marijuana.”

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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