FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Earlier this year, Governor Andy Beshear announced steps his administration would take toward medical marijuana legalization in Kentucky.
On Tuesday, Beshear said he is still working with his legal team to see if legalization through executive order is possible. He also announced 17 members who will work on a medical cannabis advisory committee to "help advise him on providing access to medical cannabis for Kentuckians suffering from chronic pain and other medical conditions."
"This is an issue whose time has come," said Beshear. "So many other states have some version to provide a level of relief to the veteran with PTSD, or someone suffering with chronic pain."
Julie Cantwell, an advocate with Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana and one of the co-founders of Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis, was selected to sit on the committee. She hopes the committee's work can put pressure on elected officials to act.
"It can mean a better quality of life for so many people," said Cantwell.
Cantwell got involved in medical marijuana advocacy to help her son who has epilepsy.
"None of the medications were helping him. So, he started using medical cannabis from out of state and he has now been 32 months seizure-free," explained Cantwell.
She believes others could benefit from medical marijuana too.
"They're sick and they're tired of waiting," said Cantwell. "They're tired of being criminals."
Kristin Wilcox, another member of the advisory commission, agrees that medical marijuana should be available to those who need it.
"There are so many people in need right now that this could help," said Wilcox. "And there's no reason for a person's health to depend solely on their zip code."
"This is a fight of compassion for our sick, suffering, and our most vulnerable population," she added.
According to the Governor's Office, the members of the committee "have relevant experience in health care, treatment of opioid use disorder and other diseases of addiction, law enforcement, criminal justice, and advocacy for medical cannabis."
Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Kerry Harvey and Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet Ray Perry will serve as co-chairs of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee. Other members are:
- Dr. Amber Cann of La Grange, pharmacy coach and adjunct professor at Spalding University;
- Julie Cantwell of Rineyville, advocate with Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana;
- Jennifer Cave of Louisville, member, Stites and Harbison;
- Eric Crawford of Maysville, advocate;
- Cookie Crews of Frankfort, commissioner of the Department of Corrections;
- Dr. John Farmer of Louisville, OB/GYN, medical director of Solid Ground Counseling and Recovery, addiction treatment provider in Louisville, Morehead and Hazard;
- Dr. Jonathan Hatton of Whitesburg, family medicine, Mountain Comprehensive Health;
- Brian Jointer of Jeffersonville, Indiana, certified public health worker in Louisville;
- Dr. Nick Kouns of Lexington, internal medicine, Clark Regional Medical Center;
- Alex Kreit of Cincinnati, Ohio, director of the Chase Center on Addiction Law and Policy at Northern Kentucky University;
- Dr. Linda McClain of Louisville, OB/GYN, Commonwealth Counseling Center;
- Andrew Sparks of Lexington, former assistant U.S. Attorney;
- Dee Dee Taylor of Louisville, chief executive officer, 502 Hemp Wellness Center;
- Julie Wallace of Morganfield, Union County Attorney; and
- Kristin Wilcox of Beaver Dam, co-founder of Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis.
The committee will travel the state and listen to Kentuckians’ views on medical cannabis and provide that feedback to the Governor.
There is also a new website where Kentuckians can learn more about the upcoming work of the advisory committee and submit feedback.
“Polling suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis, while at the same time, far too many in our state who could benefit from it are suffering. It is simply time that something more is done,” said Beshear.