A long awaited and much needed medical marijuana bill has finally been filed in the Kentucky Assembly. State Senate Bill 129, the Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act was filed on January 31, 2012 by Senator Perry Clark of Louisville. The bill is simply written. It reschedules marijuana in Kentucky from Schedule I dangerous and having no medical value, to Schedule II dangerous but having medical value. This allows physicians to prescribe the drug for qualifying conditions to be determined by the doctor. The bill allows for cultivation of 5 marijuana plants and possession of up to 5 ounces per month. The regulation of distribution is left up to the Pharmacy Board.
The bill caught activists and patients completely off guard. Activists have been writing and petitioning the Assembly for years to get this bill and they immediately sprang into action. They have been organizing over the internet and are pressing their own legislators and all the members of the Assembly individually and as a group to support and pass this legislation. Senator Kathy Stein of Lexington immediately signed on as co-sponsor and the bill has been sent to the Senate Judicial Committee where it has run into a bit of trouble. The Committee Chair, Senator Tom Jensen has so far refused to bring the measure up in committee. Without his calling up the bill it could be dead for this year. Senator Jensen has not been forthcoming with his reasons for holding up the bill. He could be thinking that the bill will die in committee and disappear. I’m afraid that is not going to happen. Now that a bill has finally been filed legislators can expect to see it from here on out till it becomes law. If a legislator wanted to get rid of this bill so he won’t have to deal with it, it might behoove him to get it over with rather than drag it out for another year or years, as could be the case.
After listening to Drug War propaganda for their entire lives I imagine there is some trepidation among legislators regarding their support for marijuana law reform but it is unfounded. There as yet has not been any type of voter backlash directed at legislators. With an approval rating of 81% in nationwide polls, medical marijuana legislation should not be controversial and patients should not have to wait another year to access this effective medicine.
The course of action for supporters of SB129 will be for them to prevail upon Senator Jensen to end his obstructionism and bring the bill up and pass it favorably out of committee. There can be no moral justification for the Assembly to not get this bill passed this year. For the members of the Assembly to ignore the suffering of our sick and disabled citizens and to make them suffer unnecessarily is appalling and a black mark against what should be a concerned and caring leadership.
Whatever the reason for the Judicial Committee not taking up SB129, the lack of action is sending a message to the citizens that their leaders are indifferent to their suffering. The Assembly may be able to wait another year , but those of our citizens with life threatening conditions might not be around when the Assembly finally gets to it.