Medicinal marijuana: two words that can be scary to a politician if you’re talking about having an open and frank discussion with your constituents about the merits of House Bill 166. On Tuesday in Henderson, having a lengthy and emotional talk with a few dozen of our citizens is exactly what we did.
Going into our city commission meeting Tuesday night, I was aware of the negatives of passing a medicinal marijuana bill for our state. Businesses are having a hard enough time finding applicants who can pass a drug screening. Will this make it even more difficult? There is not a reliable way to detect when people are driving under the influence of marijuana. How are we going to police it? And then there is, of course, a contingent of people who believe that House Bill 166 is nothing more than a stepping stone toward creating a “society of potheads.”
I was aware of some of the pros, too. Kentucky has a rich history of agricultural excellence and a pension crisis that is very difficult to figure out how to solve.
“Grow it and tax it,” is something I’ve heard quite often. I recently watched a documentary about how people were moving to Colorado a few years ago to legally purchase a strain of marijuana called “Charlotte’s Web” so their epileptic children would stop having dozens of seizures per day.
Until Tuesday night, however, I did not personally grasp the number of desperate people there are who are begging for our elected officials to listen. These people aren’t desperate because they want to get high. They’re desperate because they want relief for themselves or their loved ones.
We heard from someone whose brother is a war veteran and suffers from PTSD. He took many different types of prescription medication, contemplated suicide, suffered from severe depression, and cannabis was the only thing that provided him some consistent relief and helped change his overall attitude toward life.
We heard from a number of people suffering from Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis who have literally been taking sixteen different medications per day — all with their own special set of side-effects.
Cannabis has provided them enough of a break from the pain that they have been able to take themselves off of their pharmaceuticals and live a relatively normal life, in some cases re-entering the workforce. At one point, a tearful preacher’s wife stood up and spoke of her daughter’s medical struggles. She said she consulted the Bible and the law to figure out if she would be sinning and how much trouble she might get into if she found a way to get her daughter some marijuana to help ease her pain.
She concluded that when she looks into the eyes of her child and she knows there is something that can help her to be free from pain, to get up off the couch and walk outside to experience the world, that a choice of compassion could never be a sin and was certainly worth the risk.
Our city commission voted 5-0 to approve a resolution to send to the state of Kentucky telling them that we back the passing of House Bill 166 (Legalizing Controlled and Regulated Medicinal Marijuana). In case you didn’t know, our commission is made up of Republicans and Democrats; social conservatives, moderates, liberals; real people — all of whom hold religious beliefs very dear; and people who disagree on many issues.
I believe we all voted in favor of this measure because we listened to our people and to statistics that really stuck out like how states who have passed medicinal marijuana have seen nearly a 25 percent decline in opioid drug overdoses. We tried to find the true why of the matter. People aren’t searching for a miracle cure from an unproven commodity.
They are desperately trying to tell us that there are research and real-life examples of how, if properly prescribed and used medicinally in patients with certain ailments, this plant can actually improve someone’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being without fear of many of the dangerous and potentially life-threatening side-effects of other prescription medications.
I can’t urge our state legislators enough to reach out to your constituency, take the time to truly evaluate this bill, send it to the floor for consideration, and make a fully educated vote. I think what you’ll find is that this is not a petty partisan issue or even a religious issue, this bill is a plea for your compassion from so many of our Kentucky citizens who are suffering.
And we have the ability to do something about it.