CINCINNATI — Jan. 1 will not only be the start of a new year, but it will also be the start of a new kind of experiment for Kentucky.
Although marijuana will still be illegal in the commonwealth, sick Kentuckians certified for medical marijuana will be immune to prosecution.
The thing is they will have to travel out-of-state and buy it where it’s legal and then bring it back.
To be eligible, a doctor must diagnose and certify those wanting to be eligible with at least one of 21 conditions, including cancer, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
Kentuckians should keep their proof of purchase with them.
“It’s really important that the person that’s seeking relief keeps that paperwork,” Gov. Beshear said. “Because our law enforcement will have a palm card where basically they go through that checklist, can you show me the receipt of where you purchased it?”
But that’s where the responsibility ends.
FOCUS asked the governor’s office repeatedly if patients will be required to upload that receipt to the state so it can keep data on where the cannabis is being purchased, how much of it was bought, what kind was bought, and how often it’s bought by that patient.
The governor’s office did not answer that question.
“I’m like, wow, there’s no sort of tracking,” Dr. LaTrice Montgomery, a clinical psychologist specializing in addiction, said after reading the executive order.
Montgomery has been researching marijuana and it’s effects on people and society at the University of Cincinnati.
Her focus is now more on medical marijuana after Ohio made it available to the public in 2019.
“That’s what I’m a huge advocate of, is just tracking everything because I think it would help for us to know first," she said. "How many people are actually being affected by this?”
Montgomery says there also ought to be a state-level record of how patients react to the medical marijuana they buy.
“With this order, they’re not going to get that information,” she said.
The Executive Order clearly states that a physician’s written certification “shall not constitute a prescription for medical cannabis.”
That leaves a troublesome gray area Montgomery worries about.
“They would just be saying, oh, yes, this person has PTSD, they’re good to go,” she said.
There is no requirement for follow-up with their physician, and Montgomery is concerned about mixing marijuana with prescription medications.
“We don’t know drug-drug interactions, we still have so many unanswered questions,” she said.
Meanwhile, there is no plan for Kentuckians, who may qualify for medical marijuana, but can’t afford to buy it, especially to travel out-of-state to buy it.
“Even here, where we have many different dispensaries here within Ohio, that’s (affordability and access) still an issue,” Montgomery pointed out. “So I can only imagine having to travel out-of-state to get it.”
According to the governor’s office, providing the services to offset the costs of medical marijuana, including travel, would require an appropriation from the General Assembly.
WATCH FOCUS' PREVIOUS COVERAGE HERE