(From Msgt. Thomas Tony Vance via Facebook comes the following opinion)
There was a Kentucky Assembly Joint Interim hearing of the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee held on 12 October 2017. There was short notice of the hearing and the main topic was cannabis legalization as it relates to Public Protection. All of the scheduled speakers were members of organizations that oppose cannabis legalization. Among cannabis activists it was being called the ‘anti-legalization’ hearing.
Two of the speakers were old friends who were involved in the ‘Marijuana Summit’, held in Covington on Dec 1, 2015. Mr. Coder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and Mr. Shemelya of the National Marijuana Initiative both spoke at the December ‘Summit”. That forum was billed as a neutral look at the issue but was clearly an anti-legalization entity.
The speakers at Thursday’s hearing were Mr. Coder and Mr. Shemelya, Rick Sanders of the Kentucky State Police and Van Ingram of the Kentucky office of Drug Control Policy.
Mr. Shemelya spoke mainly of recreational legalization and how the higher potency of today’s cannabis products are a danger because we don’t understand it. After speaking about DUID, driving under the influence of drugs, he tried to blame marijuana for an increase in fatal traffic accidents, 2 seconds later, he quickly mentioned that fatal traffic accidents are actually down. Then it was back to potency and saving the children. Since cannabis would be legal only for adults over 21 this seems to be a moot point.
Mr. Ingram of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, was next and began by claiming we do not know what will happen if cannabis is legalized like tobacco. However with 20 years of citizen access in California, none of the reported claims of doom and gloom having materialized there puts his claim in serious doubt.
Mr. Coder began by wondering what effect cannabis legalization would have on employers and the economy. Stating that employers are having to change their drug screens or they will not be able to find workers etc. One wonders why cannabis would not be treated as any other commodity and problems worked out in the Assembly and the courts.
Lastly Commissioner Rick Sanders of the Kentucky State Police spoke. He went on about adult use and proceeded to repeat all the tired old claims of the negatives of legalization. Next he proceeded to list the bodies. Deaths from opioids, 52,000, from alcohol, 88,000 and tobacco 48,000 but he stopped there. No mention of cannabis deaths! Twenty-two years of citizen access since California passed medical legalization in 1996 should surely yield some deaths if it is as harmful as the speakers claim.
The discussion ended with various Legislators comments and a resolution to support and pursue research into the medical benefits of cannabis. Observers posited that the speakers looked a little desperate and it reminded me of what Mr. Shemelya said at the ‘Marijuana Summit’. He said that if California passes recreational legalization in November of 2016, which they did, then, “it’s all over folks!”