NKY senator on cannabis bill passage: ‘It’s the right thing’

Mark Payne
Mark Payne
Mark Payne is the government and politics reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected].

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The Kentucky Senate passed a bare-bones medical marijuana bill Thursday night — a momentous occasion, considering a similar bill died in the upper chambers of the Kentucky legislature the past two sessions.

Northern Kentucky’s Shelley Funke Frommeyer (R-Alexandria), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said that voting in favor of Senate Bill 247 is the “right thing.”

The 150-page bill would allow Kentuckians with specific health issues, such as cancer, chronic pain, and some other conditions to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Smoking the plant would not be allowed.

The law would go into place in January 2025.

Further, the bill requires the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to regulate medical cannabis in the Commonwealth.

Frommeyer said when she started campaigning for her seat — she represents the 24th District comprising Bracken, Campbell, Kenton, and Pendleton Counties — she attended one of Gov. Andy Beshear’s Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee meetings and talked to constituents who spoke in favor of medical marijuana.

“I also met several veterans that also lived in Campbell County with terrible suffering of PTSD,” Funke Frommeyer said.

With the Senate’s passage, it ends a year of Gov. Beshear pushing hard for the legislation. After the legislature failed to act last year, he formed the Cannabis Advisory Committee that traveled around the state soliciting feedback from Kentuckians.

In November, he issued an executive order to allow those in Kentucky with certain health conditions to use and possess small amounts of medical cannabis purchased in another that started on Jan. 1, 2023.

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In addition to Beshear’s executive order, Democratic lawmaker Rep. Rachel Roberts (D-Newport) filed a near duplicate of the bill she filed in 2022, which seeks to fully legalize recreational cannabis in Kentucky.

In addition to Roberts’ bill, a Louisville lawmaker filed a bill to put a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot to permanently decriminalize personal possession and use.

Beshear said he doesn’t think Senate Bill 47 goes far enough, but he would sign it if it hits his desk. The bill will first head to the House, which passed a similar bill last year.

“I really hope they will push it through, and even though I believe the bill isn’t perfect, I would sign it,” he said. “It is a step in the right direction.”

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