Kentucky: Lawmakers Advance Measure Facilitating State-Sponsored Cannabis Research

Frankfort, KY: State lawmakers have approved legislation, House Bill 604, establishing a cannabis-specific medical research center at the University of Kentucky. 

Provisions in the measure define the mission of the new center as follows: “Conduct and fund research, [including clinical trials,] related to cannabis and cannabis derivatives, including pharmaceutical development and the efficacies of cannabis and cannabis derivatives for the treatment of certain medical conditions and diseases; Conduct and fund research related to the health effects, including the potential risks or side effects, of the use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives; (c) Conduct and fund research related to the efficacy and potential health effects of various cannabis delivery methods, including but not limited to vaporizing, ingestibles, topical applications, and combustion; Review current and future cannabis research literature, clinical studies, and clinical trials.”

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said that the establishment of the center should not slow down legislative efforts to legalize medical cannabis access for a broad range of patients who could benefit from it. “I think we need to move toward legalization, even as the center gets up and going,” Gov. Beshear said last week. “There’s a lot of research out there already. It’s okay that we want to be a part of future research. But it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to stall that momentum.”

Legislation to legalize and regulate medical cannabis in the state passed the House of Representatives this spring, but Senate leadership refused to take up the issue. In response to the Senate’s inaction, Gov. Beshear has indicated that he may use his office’s executive powers to amend the state’s marijuana policies. However, he has not yet provided specifics as to what these changes might entail. 

Several states – including California, Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania – have similarly established state-sponsored institutions to conduct clinical trials and other research specific to the safety and efficacy of cannabis. 

Text of HB 604 is available online.