Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that he is considering what he could do to rescue a proposal to legalize medical cannabis that is currently languishing in the state’s general assembly.
The first term Democrat was asked by reporters “if he could potentially issue an executive order making medical marijuana accessible if the bill dies,” the Associated Press reported.
“We’re going to explore that,” Beshear said, as quoted by the news outlet. “It’s something that we will look at. Its time has certainly come.”
Beshear’s comments came nearly a month after the Kentucky House of Representatives easily passed legislation that would legalize medical cannabis in the state for qualified patients.
That measure, sponsored by Republican state House Rep. Jason Nemes, would permit physicians to recommend cannabis treatment to patients with a host of qualifying conditions, such as cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea.
The bill passed the House, where the GOP holds a large majority, by a vote of 59-34.
In his efforts to build support for the bill, Nemes spoke of his experiences talking to patients and doctors.
“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes said. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. So, I was starting to question it. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”
But the bill has gone nowhere in the state Senate, which is also dominated by Republicans. It is a near identical scenario to 2020, when the Kentucky state House passed a medical cannabis bill only for it to be stymied in the state Senate.
Robert Stivers, the president of the Kentucky state Senate, was skeptical and dismissive of the bill from the start, saying that the legislature was running out of time to tackle legislation of that significance.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Stivers “remains opposed to legalizing medical marijuana, saying that while he’s seen research showing marijuana could have a positive effect on patients with spasticity, nausea and joint inflammation, he says those studies had small sample sizes and duration — while he’s seen others showing negative side effects.”
More recently, Stivers has expressed doubt that lawmakers have enough time to get the bill over the line, with the assembly’s 60-day session winding down.
On Thursday, Stivers said “it would be difficult” to pass the bill when lawmakers return for the final two days of the legislative session next week, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reported that Stivers has “touted another pending bill that would create a cannabis research center at the University of Kentucky to study the use of cannabis to treat certain medical conditions.”
“Most definitely, I think there is that desire to help individuals,” Stivers said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “But with any drug, I think you need to have the full-blown studies.”
“That would give us the impetus to come back maybe within a year and say this is what marijuana could be used for or not be used for,” Stivers added, according to the Associated Press.
Enter Beshear, who has been forceful in his advocacy for legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky.
While suggesting on Thursday that he may resort to executive action on the matter, Beshear once again urged lawmakers to deliver a bill to his desk.
“You see people from every part of every spectrum that are in favor of this,” Beshear said, as quoted by the Associated Press.