FRANKFORT — A medical cannabis bill acquired support and has officially been submitted to the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
State Rep. John Sims is the primary bill sponsor with State Rep. Alan Gentry as a cosponsor. Sims said that he stands behind the bill because of research and studies that show medical marijuana use as effective in certain situations.
“There are studies showing it helps without forcing someone to take pills every day,” said Sims. “This bill would allow for physicians to prescribe it to patients as an option.”
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes called on Kentuckians who are passionate about medical marijuana to join a campaign to not only educate and lobby the General Assembly in support of the House Bill 166.
“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,” said Grimes. “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.”
Rep. Gentry said once Rep. Sims asked him to look more into the facts and research behind medical marijuana usage, it became a no-brainer.
“My best friend growing up suffered from epilepsy,” said Gentry. “He’s a successful businessman now and he stumbled across medical marijuana and now his seizures have went away.”
After losing his arm earlier in his late twenties, Gentry became involved in disabled sports. He took a liking to golf and started competing and met a lot of people that suffered from chronic pain because of their disabilities.
“I’ve seen several guys suffer from opioid addiction,” said Gentry. “And then I have seen guys move to medical marijuana successfully.”
The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reports that opioid deaths have fallen by 25 percent in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana.
Studies show that Medical Marijuana use can help with or counter side effects of PTSD, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other conditions or diseases.
The bill gained significant traction because of Maysville residents Eric and Michelle Crawford.
The Crawfords’ started fighting for the use of medical marijuana because of Eric’s state of health.
Eric is a quadriplegic – his spine was injured in a car accident that occurred in 1994. He met Michelle during rehabilitation at Cardinal Hill. The two became inseparable and started their journey to have medical marijuana be accessible to those in need here in Kentucky.
The couple travelled throughout the state from town hall meeting to town hall meeting to speak on the subject. When Eric’s health would allow, they would travel to Frankfort for the general assembly at least once a week.
“I’ve been living in pain for too many years. Thankfully, I have found medical marijuana works,” said Eric Crawford. “I want the relief I experience — natural, organic relief — to be accessible to every Kentuckian who needs it. And let every legislator know, in 2018 Kentuckians are watching. We are expecting you to act. You will hear from us.”
Grimes and Sims’ task force includes members of Kentucky’s medical community, including doctors, nurses and medical administrators, as well as representatives from law enforcement and state agencies with regulatory oversight, medical marijuana advocates, and military veterans.
“House Bill 166 is the best bill in the United States of America for medical cannabis,” said Sims. “There have been hours, weeks, and months spent on this bill to make it the gold standard. This about improving the health of Kentuckians.”
“A majority has to promote it to committee to even get it to a House vote,” said Gentry. “The best way for people to get involved is to speak out to legislators.”