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Beshear signs executive order to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky | News

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentuckians will soon be able to possess and use 8 or fewer ounces of medical marijuana if it’s legally purchased in another state, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday.

Beshear said he signed an executive order that will go into effect Jan. 1.

“There is another way to manage pain without the threat of addiction,” Beshear said in a news conference from Frankfort.

There will be three pieces of criteria that must be met, Beshear said:

  • Cannabis must be bought in the United States of America in a state where the purchase is legal and regulated. Kentuckians will need to keep their receipt.
  • The amount a person can purchase and possess at any one time must not exceed 8 ounces, which is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in Kentucky.
  • Each Kentuckian must also have a certification from a licensed health care provider that shows that the individual has been diagnosed with at least one of 21 medical conditions. A copy of the certification must be retained.
    • Cancer
    • ALS
    • Epilepsy
    • Intractable Seizures
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Crohn’s Disease
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Sick Cell Anemia
    • Severe and chronic pain
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    • Cashexia or Wasting Syndrome
    • Neuropathies
    • Severe arthritis
    • Hepatitis C
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Intractable pain
    • Muscular dystrophy
    • Huntington’s Dsiease
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Glaucoma
    • A terminal illness

Polling on by the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis.

“You can purchase cannabis to treat a medical condition in Illinois, and you can use that cannabis in West Virginia, but while you’re traveling through Kentucky, you’re a criminal,” Beshear said. “That’s not right.”

Legislation legalizing medical marijuana has passed the Kentucky House twice but stalled each time in the Senate. Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, who’s been a driving force for legalizing medical marijuana, said Tuesday that Beshear doesn’t have the power to sign an executive order legalizing it and can’t make changes without legislators.

“Today, the Governor has granted himself a power that exists nowhere in the United States and finds no refuge in Kentucky’s Constitution,” Nemes said. “If the pardon power—which is where he claims to have authority to rewrite entire chapters of criminal law—gives him the authority he claims, then he has become a law unto himself and he is the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary all at once. As much as I support his effort to bring medical marijuana to Kentucky, this unprecedented power grab cannot stand.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is also a Republican candidate for governor, offered a similar response.

“Time and time again, the governor has attempted to bypass the policy-making authority of the General Assembly,” Cameron said on social media shortly after Tuesday’s news conference. “Today’s executive orders regarding medical marijuana and Delta 8 are another example of his attitude toward governing. As always, he seems to relish ruling by decree instead of by the law. Kentucky’s General Assembly is the sole and final policy-making body of this state and they must be allowed to have their say. We are reviewing these executive orders to determine next steps.”

On Tuesday, Beshear said he’d rescind the executive order if meaningful legislation is passed in the House and Senate. In the meantime, though, he said medical marijuana is an alternative to combat drug overdose, something that has plagued the state for decades with deadly consequences.  

“Nobody should feel like a criminal when they can legally purchase (medical marijuana) in a neighboring state and use it in another,” Beshear said.

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