GOP nominee Rebecca Johnson said medical marijuana will stop Kentucky’s opioid epidemic, one of her first statements in a special election campaign for the 49th House District seat left vacant by her husband, Dan Johnson, who died by suicide last month.
“I want the politicians to put their big boy pants on and free up marijuana to do what it can do to help our people,” Rebecca Johnson said in a statement.
“Reversing the opioid crisis in Kentucky starts with marijuana,” she said.
Johnson is challenging Linda Belcher, a Shepherdsville Democrat and retired school teacher, who lost the seat in 2016 to Dan Johnson.
“My opponent has been a long-time profile in cowardice on this and many other issues,” Johnson said in the statement. “That failure is what this campaign will be about until she loses again.”
Belcher said she has never had the opportunity to vote on a medical marijuana bill and that legalizing medical marijuana is an important part of her campaign.
“For the last couple of weeks I’ve been asking constituents about those issues,” Belcher said. “I feel like it’s something that the people of Shepherdsville want, and I’m listening.”
Recently, Belcher said she posted a poll on her Facebook asking what people in Bullitt County thought about medical marijuana legalization, and it was overwhelmingly positive.
“I’m sorry she feels like name-calling is a part of this campaign,” Belcher said.
Rebecca Johnson’s comments on medical marijuana come after the Justice Department announced Thursday that it would rescind Obama administration policies not to interfere with state laws allowing people to use pot for medical and recreational use.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it was a “return to the rule of law” in a memo outlining the change, according to USA TODAY.
Johnson said Sessions is removing states’ rights when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana.
“With his odd administrative move against states on cannabis rights, Jeff Sessions has turned himself into Darth Vader,” she said in the statement. “President Trump should send him back to Alabama now.”
Research on how medical marijuana affects opioid use is unclear.
People who use marijuana are more likely than non-users to use other drugs and develop problems, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But in studies that compared states’ mortality rates from opioid overdose, researchers found lower mortality rates in states where medical marijuana was legal.
Rebecca Johnson was nominated last month to be the GOP candidate in the special election, which is set for Feb. 20.
Dan Johnson died Dec. 13, days after he said he would not resign his House seat over an allegation that he had sexually abused a teenage girl at the Fern Creek church where he was a pastor.