2017 Kentucky Marijuana Legalization Vote: Key Dates To Watch

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Above:  Unfortunately the above picture was not taken in Kentucky!

 

Have you been trying to follow Kentucky marijuana legalization news online and find you cannot figure out if it is legalized or if the bill died in the Kentucky State Senate?

Current Kentucky medical marijuana laws were introduced in late 2016 by Kentucky state senator, Perry Clark. This particular senator has introduced similar laws in the past, but the one that was due to be voted on in 2017 by Kentucky state lawmakers is called The Cannabis Compassion Act, and it was filed as BR409.

While there were plenty of fans that were excited about this news in early 2017, after the bills for Kentucky legal marijuana were filed, no one seemed to know when anything was going to happen next. It was not really clear to many Kentuckians if lawmakers had denied or confirmed a bill to legalize marijuana.

Worse, the Kentucky State Senate closed their main legislative session on March 31, and there was no news about where the legal marijuana bill was going. In order to get a few facts straight, some careful online sleuthing was done to get all of the right information in the right place.

Medical marijuana touted by supporters to Trump.Protesters organized in January to tell Donald Trump they wanted support for medical marijuana. [Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Kentucky did not pass medical marijuana in early 2017. The confusion was caused when several articles were published in February that quoted a news source that had misinformation on the topic.

Instead, the bill to pass medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky is actually two different bills. The names of these bills are SB76 and SB57.

When information is reviewed about Kentucky’s medical marijuana bills that are being proposed in 2017, it shows on the SB76 and SB57 websites that they have been “assigned” to various committees for review — and are therefore still in progress.

SB57 is currently assigned to Health and Welfare, while SB76 is with Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations.

Regardless, what these pages do not clearly indicate is whether or not these bills are still being considered, when they will be considered, or when they will be voted on.

Thankfully, by cross-referencing with the 2017 interim calendar for the Kentucky State Senate, there is helpful information about approximate dates to expect Kentucky marijuana legalization news.

Rand Paul Kentucky is pro-marijuana.Kentucky U.S. Senator, Rand Paul, is pro-marijuana legalization, but he is not a voting member for the Kentucky State Senate. [Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

As far as SB76 goes, Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations will meet the second Friday of each month between June and October. In November, Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations will meet on the 17th.

For SB57, Health and Welfare meet the third Wednesday of each month during the June-November Kentucky State Senate interim calendar.

With the basic information needed to target key dates to listen out for the legalization of marijuana in Kentucky, the next question is whether or not the state senators will actually vote for it.

Although there have been many supporters of the medical marijuana bill in Kentucky, there have also been a few opponents.

For example, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, they reported that a retired Kentucky state trooper, Ed Shemelya, is the director of the National Marijuana Initiative, according to WXOW. In La Crosse, Shemelya is educating attendants of his talks about how “marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs due to what we do not yet know about its effects.”

As an anti-weed advocate, Ed Shemelya has also visited Glasgow, Kentucky, with a similar message.

This time, instead of children, Glasgow Daily Times stated that Shemelya’s audience for his anti-marijuana message was comprised of “law enforcement officials, and others ranged from health educators to youth service and family resource center coordinators.”

Countering anti-weed messages like Ed Shemelya’s are multiple medical marijuana town hall meetings that have been scheduled throughout Kentucky.

According to WSAZ, Justin Lewandoski, a member of the town hall in Paintsville, Kentucky, says the medical marijuana meeting planned for April 20 was meant to educate people by letting people speak about their “experiences with medical marijuana and the relief it provided them.”

While Kentucky is still in the process of potentially voting for medical marijuana, the state continues to prosecute buyers, growers, and distributors. Naturally, keeping marijuana illegal means that budget-strapped Kentucky must pay law enforcement and jails for marijuana arrests.

In addition to the arrests of marijuana growers that know they have THC in their crops, WKYT says that authorities are so overzealous about the illegality of marijuana in Kentucky that they recently burned a crop of commercial hemp because it allegedly had “too much THC.”

Not having legal marijuana in Kentucky also means that the state is targeted for trafficking from outsiders. For example, WKMS reports on April 19 that Kentucky state police arrested a man from Washington state that was trafficking 75-pounds of marijuana through Lyon County.

Kentucky also continues to prosecute marijuana grower John Robert “Johnny” Boone, allegedly the “Godfather” of the Cornbread Mafia. After eluding authorities for almost 10 years, John Boone was finally isolated and captured in 2017.

When John Boone was arrested and convicted in 1988, he went to jail for a decade for having one of the biggest marijuana growing syndicates of all time that had farming operations in almost 30 states, according to U.S. News & World Report.

About the reasons he grew marijuana, John Boone stated the following in federal court when he was sentenced in the late 1980s.

“With the poverty at home [in Kentucky], marijuana is sometimes one of the things that puts bread on the table. We were working with our hands on earth God gave us.”

Updates on Kentucky’s medical marijuana bills can be followed on Legiscan.

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Kentucky Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana, Take Step to Nullify Federal Prohibition

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 13, 2016) – A Kentucky Senate bill slated for introduction in 2017 would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.

Pre-filed by Sen. Perry B. Clark (D-Louisville), BR409 would “protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their practitioners and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture, if such patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The bill will be considered by the Kentucky State Senate during the 2017 legislative session.

Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of the following ailments listed in BR409:

A terminal illness, peripheral neuropathy, anorexia, cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, substance use disorder, mood disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, autism, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Tourette syndrome, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or the treatment of these conditions

Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under BR409, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries, called “compassion centers” in BR409, would be permitted to operate as well provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.

“Most of my life we have expended tax dollars pursuing a ban on a plant,” Sen. Clark said in a WKYT news report from earlier this year. “Wasted dollars, they were. We have exponentially increased the power and scope of our criminal justice system by strapping it with issues concerning a plant.”

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB409 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky would remove a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Kentucky sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

With passage of SB409, Kentucky would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts are set to join them after voters approved ballot initiatives in favor of legalization last November.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

BR409 will need to be formally introduced and pass its committee assignments before it can be considered by the full Senate. Stay in touch with our Tenther Blog and our Tracking and Action Center for the latest updates.

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Senator Perry Clark has pre-filed a bill for the 2017 legislative season that pertains to legalizing marijuana in the state …

 

Marijuana Legalization laws hit the books in Kentucky in 2017.

 

Almost one year after filing the Cannabis Freedom Act, Kentucky State Senator Perry Clark has pre-filed a bill for the 2017 legislative season that pertains to legalizing marijuana in the state.

Filed on December 6 for the January, 2017, legislative season, the new bill is called the Cannabis Compassion Act and is filed as BR 409. Nevertheless, little has changed between the wording of the proposed laws of 2015, 2016, and the new 2017 Cannabis Freedom Act.

Now, voters will get another chance to see if this Kentucky marijuana legalization bill will fizzle out or get accepted into law.

Alternatively, the fact that recent elections have replaced some candidates could mean the newcomers are more receptive to marijuana legalization than their predecessors.

Before the elections, Norml gave most of Kentucky’s congressional members a poor rating for their lack of support for any type of marijuana legalization. The exceptions are Republican pro-marijuana legalization advocates Senator Rand Paul and Representative Thomas Massie.

In particular, it was noted that many Republican Kentuckians in the House of Representatives voted against the 2016 Veterans Equal Access Amendment.

While these elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives might not be voting for federal legalization of medical marijuana or cannabis, there is still hope that the Kentucky State Senate will have new members that decide to vote for marijuana legalization.

Ballotpedia points out that the Kentucky State Senate had “19 of 38 total seats… up for election in 2016.” The outcome of this election did have some surprises, such as a large number of state senators running for re-election while also being unopposed.

Another interesting note in history is that the current bipartisan makeup of 11 Democrats and 27 Republicans in the Kentucky State Senate has remained the same before and after the election.

This meant that there was no shift in the number of Democrats or Republicans at the Kentucky State Senate before or after the November 8 elections, but there will be a few newly elected officials voting on the Cannabis Compassion Act in 2017.

On the other hand, Kentucky might need to worry about Republicans voting against marijuana legalization because many members of the GOP are not as anti-marijuana legalization as they were in the recent past.

For example, Atlantic quoted Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary under George W. Bush, at a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference, titled “Rocky Mountain High: Does Legalized Pot Mean Society’s Going Up In Smoke?” During the panel discussion in 2014, Bill Bennett said there “used to be a strong conservative coalition opposed to drugs.”

However, in 2014, it was clear to Bill Bennett and other GOP members that the conservative anti-marijuana legalization viewpoint was dissipating in the face of mounting public support for legalization. Bennett concluded with the sentiment that Republicans are “fighting against the tide” on the legal marijuana issue.

In the past, the issues with marijuana legalization in Kentucky in 2016 centered on behind-closed-doors meetings about the proposed law.

Two Kentucky state senators that were commonly quoted as being unsure about passing a marijuana legalization law in the state were John Schickel and Jimmy Higdon. Both of these senators are still in elected positions, and this means they will have another chance to vote on marijuana legalization in January, 2017.

For example, the last update about the 2016 marijuana legalization law in Kentucky was around September, according to WFPL. At that time, it was determined that the 2016 Cannabis Freedom Act was “assigned to a committee but never received a hearing.”

Kentucky state senator Jimmy Higdon was quoted at that time saying that he was not sure how the bill would manifest, and also said marijuana legalization might only be implemented for “end-of-life situations.”

Although Senator Jimmy Higdon’s remarks stand out, an attempt to push the 2017 Cannabis Compassion Act may not be futile despite it being denied in the past. For instance, it appears the Kentucky State Senate was expecting there to be another marijuana legalization bill to vote on in 2017.

In July, North Kentucky Tribune spoke with Kentucky state senator John Schickel, and he was paraphrased as saying that while the Cannabis Freedom Act “never made it to the Senate floor for a vote,” the issue is still considered relevant and “legislators want to further research the issue prior to the start of next year’s session in January [2017].”

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, other pre-filed bills for Kentucky to vote on in 2017 include increasing penalties related to narcotics.

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