Beshear defends the legality of its action on medical marijuana | Health

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear said he was confident Thursday that he was on a solid legal footing to allow Kentuckians with debilitating conditions to legally possess medical marijuana, calling it a viable alternative to addictive drugs in a state ravaged by the opioid crisis.

The Democratic governor’s comments followed a backlash from prominent Republicans criticizing the executive order he signed on Tuesday. Beshear’s action will allow Kentuckians to possess up to 8 ounces of medical marijuana at any time for use in specific medical conditions, provided the cannabis is legally purchased in other states. They should keep their receipt as proof.

A Kentuckian would need certification from a licensed healthcare provider to verify a diagnosis for at least one of 21 eligible conditions. These include cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. The order is expected to take effect on January 1, 2023.

The governor said Thursday he would be “happy” to rescind his order if the GOP-dominated legislature passes legislation next year to legalize medical cannabis.

“But until they do, it’s my job to stand up and be there for people” with chronic or terminal illnesses who could benefit from medical cannabis, Beshear said during his presentation. weekly press conference.

The governor introduced medical cannabis as an alternative to addictive opioid drugs. Until the legislature takes action, he said, his order authorizing its use under strict conditions could save Kentuckians from drug overdoses or potential suicide attempts caused by chronic illnesses.

“Think of what opioids did to us — they just devastated our condition,” Beshear said Thursday.

Fatal drug overdoses rose nearly 15% in Kentucky last year, according to a report released in June. It showed that 2,250 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2021, as increased use of fentanyl – a powerful synthetic opioid – led to a record death toll in the state.

Some prominent Republicans, including Attorney General Daniel Cameron, have argued that the governor’s unilateral action exceeded his authority. Cameron said Tuesday lawmakers “need to have a say” on the issue. He said his office is reviewing the governor’s action to determine his “next steps.”

Cameron is among several GOP candidates vying to challenge Beshear in next year’s gubernatorial election, when the Democratic incumbent will seek a second term.

Republican State Rep. Jason Nemes, a leading proponent of medical marijuana legalization, said in a social media post following Beshear’s action: “Even though I support his efforts to bring medical marijuana to Kentucky, this unprecedented power grab cannot last.”

Beshear has expressed frustration with the legislature’s failure to legalize medical cannabis and insists the overwhelming majority of Kentuckians want to see it legalized.

He insisted Thursday that he had acted within his authority based on the constitutional clemency powers given to Kentucky governors. Beshear, a former attorney general, said there would be “no grounds” for a lawsuit challenging his executive action.

“I think you see a lot of backlash from people who got caught up in the General Assembly versus the executive, or them versus me,” Beshear said.

“It’s not about us,” he added. “This is…a veteran with PTSD who had suicidal thoughts. This is someone with chronic pain. What if they step back and think about the people we’re trying to ‘help, I think you hear a different tone.

Jared Bonvell, a military veteran from northern Kentucky, said his health deteriorated when a friend suggested he try marijuana for his health issues. He was using 13 drugs at the time. Bonvell said he was skeptical, but “when I started I started dropping drug after drug after drug.” He said he was healthy and realized he had a future.

“But then I was confronted, now you’re a criminal,” he said during Beshear’s announcement on Tuesday. “It didn’t make sense.”

An advisory committee formed by the governor spent months gathering public input before Beshear intervened. He first raised the possibility of executive action on the issue in the spring, after a bill to legalize cannabis for medical purposes died again in the legislature. The measure was passed in the House but blocked in the Senate.

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