Kentucky Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana, Take Step to End Federal Prohibition

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2016) – A Kentucky Senate bill slated for introduction in 2017 would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively thwarting the deplorable federal prohibition on the same.

Pre-filed by Sen. Perry B. Clark (D-Louisville), Senate Bill 409 (SB409) would “protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their practitioners and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture, if such patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The bill will be considered by the Kentucky State Senate during the 2017 legislative session.

Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of the following ailments listed in SB409:

"A terminal illness, peripheral neuropathy, anorexia, cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, substance use disorder, mood disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, autism, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Tourette syndrome, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or the treatment of these conditions"

Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under SB409, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries, called “compassion centers” in SB409, would be permitted to operate as well provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.

“Most of my life we have expended tax dollars pursuing a ban on a plant,” Sen. Clark said in a WKYT news report from earlier this year. “Wasted dollars, they were. We have exponentially increased the power and scope of our criminal justice system by strapping it with issues concerning a plant.”

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB409 remain perfectly lawful, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any legal authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky would remove a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Kentucky sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

With passage of SB409, Kentucky would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and blocking it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts are set to join them after voters approved ballot initiatives in favor of legalization last November.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” public policy analyst Michael Boldin said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

SB409 will need to be formally introduced and pass its committee assignments before it can be considered by the full Senate. Stay in touch with Peace on our Streets for the latest updates.