Pubdate: Mon, 26 Feb 2018
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2018 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Beth Musgrave


Lexington's city council will likely take its first vote Tuesday on a
resolution supporting state legislation that would make medical
marijuana legal in Kentucky.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council began debate on the issue
during a Thursday council meeting after half a dozen people who
support making marijuana legal for those with a prescription spoke at
the meeting. The council will likely debate the issue during a Tuesday
work session and may take its first vote during a specially-called
council meeting at 5 p.m.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in
Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, said he supports
efforts to make marijuana available for medicinal purposes.

"Doctors should be able to prescribe medical marijuana, which has been
shown to reduce nausea during chemotherapy, and reduce chronic pain,"
Gray said. "I support the council resolution, and the legislation
before the state legislature. But we really need Congress to act."

State Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, and former Marine fighter pilot
Amy McGrath, Gray's key opponents in the Democratic primary for
Congress, have also said they support allowing doctors to prescribe
marijuana for certain conditions.

House Bill 166 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, but
has not received a hearing. Backers of HB 166 have pushed for cities
and counties in Kentucky to pass resolutions supporting the bill in
hopes that it will get a hearing before the legislative session
concludes on April 15.

Several counties and cities have already approved similar resolutions
and the Louisville Metro Council is also weighing a resolution
supporting HB166. Ten Louisville council members have signed on to a
resolution supporting HB 166.

The bill has faced opposition in the Republican-led state House and
Senate. Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, has previously said he would
support marijuana for medical use if it is regulated properly but has
been opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana. The Kentucky
Narcotics Officers Association has also publicly opposed any previous
attempts to make marijuana legal for those with a prescription.

It appears there is enough support on the Lexington council to back a
resolution supporting the legislation. If approved by the General
Assembly, the bill would require local governments to "opt-in" or pass
local ordinances that allow doctors in that jurisdiction to prescribe
medical marijuana.

At least eight Lexington council members, including Vice Mayor Steve
Kay, said during Thursday's meeting they support the effort but wanted
to read the bill before taking a vote. It takes eight votes to pass
legislation on the 15-member council.

"Medical marijuana has many merits," Kay said Thursday. "I have
scanned the bill but have not read it in detail. I believe every
council member should have the opportunity to read it."

Councilwoman Kathy Plomin said she has asked the city's law department
to draft a resolution supporting HB 166 and plans to introduce it
during Tuesday's work session.

If the proposed legislation is approved in Frankfort, Kentucky would
be the 30th state to make marijuana legal for people with a
prescription, Plomin said. Those states have shown an average decrease
in opiate use of 25 percent, she said.

Several people told the council during Thursday night's meeting that
medicinal marijuana could help those in chronic pain, decrease
seizures in young children and help veterans with post traumatic
stress disorder.

Nick Risden, the owner of K9 Motivation, said he was bitten by a tick
in May, which resulted in a series of infections and medical problems.
He showed the council a large briefcase that contained all of the
medications he had to take. He dropped from 180 to 135 pounds and has
had to see specialists as far away as Washington D.C.

Since going to Michigan and getting a prescription for a synthetic
marijuana derivative, Risden said he has gained weight and the number
of seizures he has had has plummeted.

Risden trains police dogs, including those used by the Lexington
Police Department.

"My life is a mess," Risden said, but the medicine that has helped the
most is not legal in Kentucky.

"I don't want to feel like a criminal, especially since my job has
been to train police dogs for the past 14 years," he said.

Mike Miller, who is a minister, told the council he was addicted to
opiates 15 years ago.

"I used cannabis to get off the opiates," Miller said.

As a minister, Miller said he visits ill people who would benefit from
medical marijuana.

"I'm not pushing for legalization by a long shot," Miller said.
"People who are sick should be able to get help."
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