(LEX 18) — Members of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory committee met for the first time in Pike County for a town hall on Wednesday. The group of diverse experts was formed to help advise Governor Andy Beshear on giving access to medical cannabis to Kentuckians.
The committee’s co-chair, Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet Ray Perry, says, "We have experts from many fields. We have criminal justice, advocacy of medical cannabis, health care field, law enforcement..."
The goal is to meet with the public, collect data, and report back to Governor Andy Beshear.
Perry says, "That's what he wants. He wants to hear from Kentuckians."
Thirty-eight other states have medical cannabis laws and policies and this committee's co-chair asks, "why not Kentucky?"
"I mean why don’t we have that access? I mean to me, it just doesn’t make sense but, that’s what we're here to find out,” says Perry.
One committee member and mom, Kristin Wilcox, has been searching for answers since her daughter was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome at 4 months old. Her daughter's rare and deadly epileptic condition was medication-resistant. At the time doctors had begun researching cannabis.
Wilcox became an advocate for alternative medicine and found that they are not alone.
"There's people all over the state with debilitating conditions, very desperate to find alternative treatments,” shared Wilcox.
Now, Wilcox’s daughter Shelby is 16 years old. She's found a form of CBD without THC that has significantly improved her condition. The family is still looking for a cannabis treatment that can help with emergency treatments. Having seen the benefits of cannabinoids she wants to stop the stigma - she has hope.
"Not just for my own daughter, but for thousands of Kentuckians all over the state who need this just as bad. And I will do everything in my power to ensure that we get this right,” says Wilcox.
Ray Perry says this is not a political issue and this has had overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle. This committee will specifically look at bringing medical cannabis to the state.
"We're specifically talking about medical cannabis, a doctor's ability to look at their patients and have this as an option to prescribe to them. Many experts agree, medical cannabis is a viable solution to certain chronic conditions,” says Perry.
This Pikeville town hall is one of four that the committee will host across the state. Again, they say the goal is to hear from as many people in the community as possible. For more information about the committee and the meetings, you can visit medicalcannabis.ky.gov.