Earlier this week, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) and Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) filed motions in Franklin Circuit Court looking to dismiss a lawsuit brought on behalf of medical marijuana patients. The lawsuit alleges that Kentucky’s ban on medical cannabis violates patient rights. The governor’s motion claims the lawsuit should be dismissed because of federal law and because medical marijuana is a “political issue” that should be decided by the state legislature.
“Since at least 2014, the legislature has debated bills advocating for the lawful use of medicinal marijuana in every legislative session,” attorney Barry Dunn wrote for the governor’s office. “The General Assembly will consider legalizing medicinal marijuana again in the 2018 session. It is solely within the General Assembly’s constitutional powers to determine whether to make medicinal marijuana lawful.”
All of that is true, but it is also true that the legislature has made little progress on medical marijuana – and that will likely continue to be the case in 2018.
“Even if the court chooses to issue an injunction that rules Kentucky’s marijuana statutes violate its constitution, federal law bars the relief that the plaintiffs seek,” Dunn wrote. “Because federal law will continue to prohibit marijuana use regardless of this case, and because federal law preempts state law on this point, any opinion the court issues will be advisory only.”
Using that logic, no state should have medical marijuana laws because it is illegal on a federal level.
As a candidate for governor in 2015, Bevin publicly supported medical marijuana, but he has done little since taking office to make it a reality for patients in the state. Despite his lack of action, Bevin continues to at least speak of his support for the idea.
“I personally am a proponent of medical cannabis, if passed by the legislature, if regulated and prescribed in the same manner as other prescription drugs,” he said last month in response to a question during a Facebook Live broadcast.
If medical marijuana is to be a “political issue,” then politicians in Kentucky need to get to work. While patients in dozens of other states have at least some legal access to cannabis for medicinal purposes, patients in Kentucky continue to either suffer or get their medicine from the black market.
With most polls showing national support for medical marijuana at over 80%, one has to wonder what the politicians are waiting for.