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Report: Kentuckians want medical marijuana legalized

Gov. Andy Beshear formed Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee to travel the state and listen to Kentuckian's views on the topic.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky governor's cannabis committee has released their findings and found a majority of Kentuckians want medical marijuana legalized.

Gov. Andy Beshear is a supporter of legalizing medical cannabis, himself. Especially in cases involving veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Beshear formed Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee to travel the state and listen to Kentuckian's views on the topic.

The committee has also been receiving feedback in town meetings and online, and they're ready to share their results.

“Polling suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis,” Beshear said.

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee's findings:

  • Kentuckians of all ages are suffering from chronic conditions. Medical providers are prescribing opioids and painkillers that are not providing relief, and Kentuckians are fearful of their addictive properties. Research indicates individuals cannot overdose from cannabis.
  • Kentuckians are leaving the state to access medical cannabis in states where it is legal. They want to be able to return to the commonwealth without breaking the law.
  • Kentucky military veterans explained that PTSD was significantly eased by the use of cannabis.

Kerry Harvey, co-chair of the committee, noted the advisory committee did not hear any opposition at their town hall meetings.

“Everyone who spoke supported legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky,” Harvey said. “We heard from many Kentuckians that use cannabis for its beneficial medical effects but can only do so by breaking the law as it now exists.”

Attendees of the town hall meetings recounted finding relief from medical cannabis after living with chronic symptoms for many years. For them, medical cannabis proved effective, while other treatments, such as opioids, did not.

Ray Perry, co-chair of the committee, said America is dealing with an opioid crisis and medical marijuana could be a safer, less addictive alternative.

“We heard about family trauma stemming from unresolved pain and addictive painkillers," Perry said. "We also heard the frustration that politics deprives them of legal access to an efficacious treatment available to an overwhelming majority of Americans.”

Military veterans attending the town halls spoke to the benefits of marijuana in reducing PTSD symptoms. Some described the inability to sleep because of the disorder, while others reported being prescribed numerous medications to ease pain, treat anxiety, sleep or move their joints fully.

A veteran from Northern Kentucky, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, described his daily struggle after being prescribed 13 medications that weren’t effective, which left him contemplating suicide. 

After turning to cannabis, the veteran said, “Within a year, I didn’t drink and was off 12 of the 13 medications. I still have all those injuries and disabilities, but I can function. I can live. I can have friendships and conversations again.”

In addition to the town hall meetings, the state’s medical cannabis website allowed Kentuckians to submit their opinions online. The website received 3,539 comments, 98.64% of which expressed support for legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky.

“I appreciate the work of those who participated, and I am taking this information into consideration as I analyze what steps I can take to legalize medical cannabis for those suffering from chronic, debilitating medical conditions," Beshear said.

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