Kentucky must legalize medical marijuana in 2018, secretary of state says

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Thomas Novelly, Louisville Courier Journal

Could legal medical marijuana be on the horizon in Kentucky?

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday she wants to legalize medical marijuana in the Bluegrass State by 2018.

A task force, led by Grimes, will also study and propose potential implementation and regulation processes.

In a statement, Grimes said, “2018 is and must be the year when Kentucky finally steps up on medical marijuana. We have to get this done to help Kentuckians who are hurting.”

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State Rep. John Sims, D- Flemingsburg, will co-chair a task force alongside Grimes the statement said.

“Kentucky is getting left behind on this issue. Already 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana legislation to help their people,” Sims said in the announcement. “The research is done. The studies have been conducted. It works, and it’s time we end our idling and start having conversations to bring medical marijuana to the Commonwealth.”

Sims said evidence exists showing marijuana combats a large number of side effects for cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Grimes announcement, however, breaks with Gov. Matt Bevin’s views on marijuana.

Recently, Bevin said he rejected any idea of legalizing marijuana in Kentucky to help the state raise money as it deals with billions of dollars’ in pension debt. He did say he could be open to legalizing medical marijuana if it was properly regulated.

“There is no way, when I am governor, that I will ever legalize recreational marijuana in Kentucky,” Bevin said. “It’s just not going to happen.”

A spokesman from Bevin’s office did not immediately return a request for comment regarding Grimes’ new task force.

Reach Reporter Thomas Novelly at 502-582-4465 or by email at tnovelly@courier-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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