01/25/2016 05:12 PM
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ward has formed a nonprofit group to advocate for medical marijuana in Kentucky.
Ward, a Democrat from Louisville, will serve as the CEO of Legalize Kentucky Now, in an effort to convince state lawmakers to pass legislation making medical marijuana legal in the bluegrass state.
In an interview with Pure Politics, Ward said medical marijuana is something that Kentucky should adopt and could be a leader on. Currently, 23 states have passed some form of medical marijuana legalization.
“I think we just need to bring people together and explain the medical value of it,” Ward said. “And explain that you’ve got grandmothers getting their grandsons to go out and break the law, so that they can have an appetite or keep food down. This is not about pot heads.”
The group Ward represents supports a bill which would require a medical prescription to access the drug.
This session, Ward said the group could advocate one of two ways, either for a full plan for medical marijuana or a bill which simply adds marijuana to the list of substances available to be prescribed by a doctor — lawmakers would then have one year to figure out how to set up an industry.
“My real delightful outcome from this session would be that either House … has a vote on the floor on the bill, and it doesn’t pass, but they vote on it, and then they don’t get beat,” Ward said. “And then they can say to their colleagues this didn’t get me beat at home or the people who vote against it say they get beat up on.”
If Ward can show lawmakers that they don’t get beat at the ballot box for voting on this issue, then the real work of determining the industry could take shape in Frankfort.
For Ward the issue is also a personal one. His brother illegally obtained and used marijuana in the hospital while battling AIDS. But he also admits the drug would generate tax revenue and jobs in the state of Kentucky.