(KY) A medical marijuana bill waiting for momentum gets a spark from Lexington

By Beth Musgrave   bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

The Lexington city council voted Tuesday to support medical marijuana, becoming the largest city in Kentucky to back efforts to allow some patients access to marijuana.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council voted unanimously during a specially-called meeting Tuesday on a resolution supporting marijuana for people with certain conditions.

Bullitt County, Maysville and Mason County have passed similar resolutions in recent years supporting state-level changes in the law to allow patients to get marijuana for medical conditions. The Louisville Metro Council is weighing a similar resolution.

House Bill 166, which would provide a legal framework for medical marijuana, has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee but has not yet had a hearing. Backers of HB 166 have pushed for cities and counties in Kentucky to pass resolutions supporting the bill in hopes that it will get a hearing before the legislative session concludes on April 15.

Vice Mayor Steve Kay said the council ultimately decided to take out reference to a specific bill in the resolution passed Tuesday. The council ultimately wanted to support the overall effort to make marijuana available to people with certain medical conditions.

“We would like to see the issue of medical marijuana addressed at the state level so we can address it at the local level,” Kay said.

Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe said she felt uncomfortable taking a vote on an issue the voters of her district had not asked her to decide. Medical marijuana is a state or federal issue. But Bledsoe said she would support the effort because she saw how much her father suffered before he died of cancer.

“My father had terminal cancer for eight years,” Bledsoe said. “He was under immense pain. For that reason, I think it’s important for the state to take up the issue. “

Medical marijuana faces opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate and House. The bill has been opposed by the Kentucky Narcotics Officers Association. HB 166 would require a doctor to recommend marijuana before a patient could get it. It would be dispensed through a state-run dispensary.

The council decided to have the specially-called meeting Tuesday to pass the resolution after several Lexington-area residents spoke Thursday before the council. Those speakers told the council medical marijuana could help cancer patients, veterans with post traumatic stress disorder and those dealing with chronic pain who do not want to use opiates.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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