Kentucky House Bill 166 and Senate Bill 118 concerning the legalization of medical cannabis have gained more support at the Capitol.
In January, HB166 and SB118 were filed in Kentucky with only a handful of supports in the House and the Senate.
HB166 had Rep. John Sims as a sponsor with Rep. Alan Gentry as the only co-sponsor. Sims and Gentry are both Democrat representatives and were the initial supporters of the bill.
The bill has gained a significant amount of supporters in the House with a total of 16 Democrat sponsors and three Republican sponsors as of Feb. 21 for a total of 21 representatives supporting the bill.
According to Maysville residents and medical cannabis supporters Eric and Michelle Crawford, the House Judiciary Chair, Rep. Joseph Fischer is currently refusing to hear the bill.
Eric is a quadriplegic who suffers from glaucoma, spasms, and other debilitating conditions. He and his wife Michelle are responsible for a lot of the traction that the bills have gotten in the past few months.
In a previous statement to The Ledger Independent, the Crawfords said the House Bill would have trouble getting through the Judiciary Committee and would likely “be sent there to die.”
The Crawfords said they expected HB166 to be on the agenda by now but aren’t surprised that it hasn’t been heard yet.
“We have 21 cosponsors now,” said Sims. “It’s still in committee waiting for a hearing.”
SB118 was also proposed in January and is awaiting a hearing in the Veteran’s Committee, according to the Crawfords.
Originally proposed by Sen. Stephen West, SB118 had no cosponsors. Since it was originally proposed, SB118 has gained five Democrat senators and two Republican senators as cosponsors for a total of eight senators supporting the bill.
Both bills were created over several months using wordage and successful tactics from other states. The bill would legalize the use of medical cannabis under a set list of circumstances. To acquire a medical cannabis card, an individual would be required to meet with a physician and have a condition that would be helped by the taking of medical cannabis.
The bill holds no ties to the legalization of recreational marijuana and many supporters of the bills have said they do not support recreational use of cannabis but do want the option to have access to this as an alternative to prescription painkillers.
“I struggled to lift my head on opioids,” said Eric. “But with cannabis, I was able to and it gave all the same relief.”
Sims and West have both said that they believe that medical cannabis can be used as a substitute for the opioids that many people are addicted to in Kentucky.
Although neither of the bills has been heard yet, they are still gaining support and have not been voted upon.