Members of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Rep. John Sims' medical cannabis task force on Thursday discussed the concepts of a legislative proposal for the 2018 legislative session. The legislation is anticipated to be bipartisan.
"In the weeks since we announced this effort on medical cannabis, I've heard the stories of Kentuckians in every part of the state – countless veterans, single parents, grandmothers, Parkinson's patients, and many more," said Grimes. "The stories are real and heart-wrenching. This moment is a gut check for Kentucky. Every elected official has a duty to stand up now and work toward giving people access to medicine that can help them, and I'm hoping every one of us will."
Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reports that opioid overdose deaths have fallen by 25% in states that have legalized medical marijuana.
In Kentucky, where the 2014 veteran suicide was 10% higher than the national average, many veterans and their physicians say that medical cannabis is the most effective treatment for chronic pain and PTSD. Numerous veterans attended the meeting, the task force's second.
The members also heard from Laura from Scott Co., the mother of a young woman who committed suicide earlier this year. She said her daughter suffered from a disorder that medical cannabis could have helped.
"I'm here for my daughter. I know that if she had had access to medical cannabis, she may be alive today," she said. "I am a personal testament to the benefits of medical cannabis. While dealing with my daughter's death, I have been prescribed high dosages of anxiety medicines, the side effects of which are life altering. CBD oil has helped me cope. It's a natural treatment and I am now completely off those other medicines. In my daughter's memory, I won't stop working until other Kentuckians can have real access to medical cannabis."
Besides benefits for PTSD, significant evidence exists showing marijuana counters side effects of many other illnesses and diseases, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, and hepatitis C.
Grimes reiterated her call to Kentucky's cities and counties to back medical cannabis legislation.
"Medical cannabis can help their citizens. Many are veterans who fighting physical and mental illnesses, get care and relief they need. The people it can help are friends and neighbors. We see them in the grocery store. We go to church with them. This issue has a face and a name for our local officials,” said Grimes.
Officials from Maysville and Mason County, which have recently taken official action in support of legalization legislation, attended the meeting. The localities passed a resolution in support of Maysville resident Eric Crawford, a constituent of Rep. Sims and member of the medical cannabis panel.
Crawford was in a car accident as a young man that left him with debilitating pain and paralysis. He displayed the dozens of prescription pain relievers, including narcotics, he had been prescribed and have many adverse side effects. Crawford said he experiences the most relief with cannabis.
The medical cannabis task force includes members of Kentucky's medical community, including doctors, nurses and medical administrators, as well as representatives from law enforcement and state agencies with regulatory oversight, medical marijuana advocates, and military veterans.
(provided by Secretary of State for Kentucky)