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Grimes announces bill filing for medical marijuana

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is joined by advocates and lawmakers as she announced the filing of legislation for the legalization of medical marijuana.

Kentuckians could soon have an alternative to the addictive pharmaceutical drugs causing havoc across the state as Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Democratic lawmakers announced they had filed legislation Thursday for the legalization of medical marijuana.

Rep. John Sims Jr., D-Flemingsburg, filed House Bill 166  today in the House co-sponsored by Rep. Al Gentry, D-Louisville. The bill is the product of Grimes’ medical marijuana task force aimed at giving Kentuckians an alternative currently legalized by 29 states across the nation and the District of Columbia.

"What started as a whisper years ago is now a loud chorus. Kentuckians have declared 2018 as the year they expect action on medical marijuana from their legislators," Grimes said. "Now, with 29 states and the District of Columbia offering relief in the form of medical marijuana to their citizens, we must waste no more time.

“We've heard real, heart-wrenching stories from all over the commonwealth about how access to cannabis can provide long-lasting and life-changing relief. The serious discussions this task force had have resulted in a solid piece of legislation that can change lives."

Sims called the bill the “ best bill in the United States of America for medical cannabis," and that “hours, weeks, and months (were) spent on this bill to make it the gold standard. This about improving the health of Kentuckians."

According to a recent report by the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, opioid overdose deaths have fallen by 25 percents in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

A few facts

• In Kentucky, where the 2014 veteran suicide rate was 10 percent  higher than the national average, many veterans say that medical cannabis is the most effective treatment for chronic pain and PTSD;

• Evidence shows medical marijuana counters side effects of many other illnesses and diseases including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, and hepatitis C.

Becca Weinhandl told attendees her two-year-old daughter Carlee, who has been diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy, had better responses and health outcomes with  CBD oil — a medical cannabis treatment — while they lived in Colorado. Now that she has moved back home, her daughter can’t legally get the treatment.

“Since being back, Carlee hasn't been able to get treatment. Her seizures are coming back without the medicine. She can't speak for herself, so I have to speak for her,” Weinhandl said.

“Imagine being a mother whose daughter you have to see suffer every single day – and you know there's medicine that can help her – but the law is blocking you. Please, help us get this done for my daughter and so many others.”

House Democratic Angie Hatton of Whitesburg joined Grimes supporting the bill saying she’s had an outpour of her constituents supporting the bill.

“This is something they were interested in talking about. This bill is doing it right — as a former prosecutor. This bill is the gold standard (for the legalization of medical marijuana) from the others that have passed,” Hatton said. “I’m — frankly— very surprised out how  widely needed the bill is, how many people have looked into it, studied the bill and looked into it for a loved one, a veteran, a cancer patient ... a child. It’s time we take some of this money from big pharmaceuticals that are meant to help us and end up hurting us.”

Grimes asked Kentuckians to join the fight and call legislators urging them to support House Bill 166 by calling 1-800-372-7181.