Lawmakers doubt Governor Beshear can legalize medical marijuana

Posted at 7:41 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 19:42:47-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's no secret that Governor Andy Beshear wants medical marijuana to be legalized in Kentucky.

"This is an issue whose time has come," said Beshear in a Twitter video posted earlier this month. "So many other states [have] some version to provide a level of relief to the veteran with PTSD, or someone suffering from chronic pain."

The governor has indicated that he may use his executive power to get the job done. But the question is: can he do that?

Beshear said his team is looking into "legal options for executive action."

But one medical marijuana-friendly lawmaker believes it's not possible.

“He does not have the authority to make medical marijuana legal by executive action," State Rep. Jason Nemes. "I wish he did, but he doesn’t.”

Nemes is the primary sponsor of House Bill 136, a narrow medical marijuana bill that passed out of the Kentucky House in 2020 and 2022. However, the bill didn't go anywhere in the Senate.

Nemes says he wants the same outcome as Beshear - legalized medical marijuana. However, he believes it's not possible through executive action.

“I don’t think we can mislead people," said Nemes. "The governor is a very smart lawyer, and he knows what he’s saying is not true."

"I support medical marijuana. I’ve been fighting for it for a long time," added Nemes. "I will support any effort that I think can push the ball forward. But we cannot give advocates - and people who just want to be and feel better - false hope.”

Nemes explains that unless there is legislative change, marijuana would still be legally outlawed. He believes that could mislead people into criminal trouble.

“Anyone who would be possessing marijuana - thinking they would be following the law because the governor has put an executive order in - will be committing a crime," said Nemes. "They will be prosecuted."