Proponents of cannabis reform in Kentucky had an opportunity to have their voices heard at the legislative level on January 22nd and 23rd.
Advocacy groups including Kentucky’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KY NORML), Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana (KY4MM) and Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition (KCFC) organized advocacy day activities in Frankfort.
Kentuckians throughout the commonwealth traveled to the Capitol Annex to participate in meetings with more than 80 legislators in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to vote to pass medical cannabis legislation as proposed in House Bill 136 sponsored by state Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, or as the emerging trend is becoming with Kentucky’s legislators, thanking them for their support.
“It’s time in Kentucky for people who will be helped by medical marijuana to have access to it,” Nemes said in a recent interview. “It allows physicians if they think their patients will benefit from medical marijuana, to make a recommendation to the patient so they can get it.”
“Out of state lobbyists are certainly trying to influence medical cannabis legislation in their favor and not in the interests of our patients here in Kentucky. Citizens need to let their lawmakers know how they feel about these issues. Organizing events like these helps get the people in front of their legislators so they can hear their opinions. They are there to represent their constituents, after all. That’s why it is so vital that our citizens, activists, and patients show a united front and let their voices be heard on HB136 as well as the other cannabis bills in Frankfort.” said KY NORML Executive Director Matthew Bratcher.
Bratcher recommends advocates who visit or have a call with their legislators to be polite and respectful regardless of differing political opinions between constituents and elected officials.
During the 2020 Advocacy Days, KY NORML hosted The Real Cannabus, operated by Enlighten, a Bowling Green-based cannabis technology company. The bus is a state-of-the-art rolling dispensary showroom meant to showcase Enlighten’s high-tech line of dispensary products, as well as educate people on the safety and regulations enacted in a regulated cannabis market. Lawmakers were encouraged to take a private tour of the Cannabus to experience it firsthand, and many took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the industry as well as safety protocols that are implemented in other states to prevent diversion.
At the conclusion of Advocacy Days, KY NORML, KY4MM, and KCFC hosted a networking event at All Things Hemp, a CBD Health and Wellness store located in downtown Frankfort. The networking event included discussions about what was learned during Advocacy Days, the next steps for medical cannabis legalization, a summary of other upcoming cannabis-related legislation, and a path forward for cannabis reform.
Over the course of the two-day lobbying effort and the following days, Sen. Steve West, D- Paris, introduced the companion bill to HB136, Senate Bill 107. Sen. West was joined by 10 of his colleagues in the Senate in co-sponsoring the bill. SB107 was then sent to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, mirroring the path of HB136 through the House. Momentum in the House of Representatives has kept going, with House Bill 136 gathering 45 sponsors, consisting of almost half of its chamber’s members.
KY NORML encourages Kentuckians who support medical cannabis reform to fill out to write your legislator or to call the legislative hotline at 1-800-372-7181. Callers must provide their name and zip code and are able to leave a message for lawmakers in support of medical cannabis reform and any other cannabis-related issue such as cannabis decriminalization in this legislative session.