Senator Perry B. Clark (D-Louisville) has pre-filed legislation for the 2013 legislative session that would add Kentucky to the growing list of states that allow patients whose doctors have recommended it to use medical marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious medical conditions.
The bill would also establish a network of state-regulated dispensaries where patients could purchase medical marijuana. Senator Clark promised the bill’s introduction at a July press conference, noting he wanted to get an early start on generating support in the legislature.
“This is not a conservative issue or a liberal issue; it’s an issue of compassion,” said Senator Clark. “Countless studies show that marijuana is effective at treating pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms. If it was my family member, I would do anything to relieve their suffering.”
As for potential opposition to the bill from anti-drug legislators, Senator Clark emphasized that the bill would only apply to marijuana for medical purposes. “This is not about legalizing marijuana. It’s about getting government out of healthcare, and putting science in.”
Donna Fox, a patient from Louisville diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, welcomed the news. “I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age four. I’ve been living with this disease for 42 years and lost count many years ago as to how many injections I have endured and the thousands of pills I have swallowed,” she said. “If medical marijuana, which carries far fewer and less severe side effects, can work then why should I be denied relief? I just want to live a functional life without the pain.”
While Clark has acknowledged that finding support in the legislature will take time, popular support is strong. National polling shows that upwards of 70 percent of voters support medical marijuana laws, and support remains strong even in traditionally conservative states.
For example, in Arkansas, where a medical marijuana initiative will appear on the November ballot, polls show that a plurality of voters there would vote in favor of allowing its use. Medical marijuana initiatives will also be on state ballots in Massachusetts and, likely, North Dakota.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is helping with the legislation, has been involved in changing many state-level marijuana laws since 2009. For more information on MPP, please visit www.mpp.org.