“This bill is no joke. This is a law enforcement-heavy, […] medication-heavy bill. This is not a wink-wink nod-nod to get to recreational. I don’t want to slouch toward recreational.”
So says Rep. Jason Nemes (R) of Kentucky, whose legislation for medical marijuana access in the state was recently
The bluegrass state of Kentucky, widely known for its traditions of bourbon, horse racing, tobacco and other forms of vice, has long resisted cannabis legislation; this is despite KY state Senator Mitch McConnell being a driving force behind the 2018 Farm Bill’s provisions for growing hemp, as well as Kentucky’s position as one of America’s top hemp-growing states.
Similar legislation from Rep. Nemes was shot down both in
Multiple Cannabis Legislation Efforts In Competition
The legislation –
Of the three, HB 170 and HB 136 have already passed one phase of the legislative process, now moving on to either the KY state House (for HB 170) or the state Senate (for HB 136); SB 186 has yet to be viewed in this season. All three pieces of legislation will face a Democratic minority in both the House and Senate, and despite the Republican sponsorship of HB 136 it may still face an uphill battle.
Bills Face Opposition, But Not Without Support
Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R), part owner of the “Kentucky Senator Bourbon” distillery, has been a staunch opponent of any cannabis legalization. During a discussion panel
Despite strong opposition, cannabis legislation in the state does have a friend in a high position – namely Kentucky state Governor Andy Beshear (D), who has
Meanwhile, Kentucky citizens have been asking for cannabis legalization for quite some time. A 2020
KY Hemp Businesses Prepare For Worst-Case Scenarios
Unclear is what to expect if both one of the competing medical/recreational bills pass along with the blanket “intoxicating hemp-derived product” ban of HB 170, though local Kentucky businesses are already planning for the worst.
Robert Matheny, owner of the Nicholasville-based retail store “KY CBD Farmacy”, spoke with
He continued, saying “It would be detrimental to a lot of Kentuckians, to take away any cannabinoid that’s helping them, that’s not a pharmaceutical, that’s not a bottle of alcohol, we need these to help our people.”
Each having cleared one of the two congressional branches, both HB 170 and HB 136 will now need to clear the other before being passed to Gov. Beshear for final approval. Democratic alternative SB 186 has been introduced to the Senate and is currently awaiting vote.