Representatives Diane St. Onge and Jason Nemes want to see Kentuckians suffering chronic pain gain access to medical cannabis.
“Representative Jason Nemes and myself have filed house bill 136 to address an issue that has too long been neglected in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Ms. St. Onge, who stated 40,000 – 60,000 pain patients in the state could potentially benefit.
A particularly interesting aspect of this move was Jason Nemes’ involvement – he’s had a road to Damascus moment.
“A lot of people know I was not for medical marijuana when I ran for office,” Rep. Nemes stated. “And then I met with some folks, some constituents in my district and was educated on the matter and have changed my position and now am full throttle in support of medical marijuana.”
The pair noted 33 states have legalised medicinal cannabis and it was time for Kentucky to get on board, but with a strictly controlled program.
Rep. Nemes also highlighted the opioid crisis in the state, and that offering medicinal marijuana as an alternative could help alleviate it. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Kentucky has the unfortunate distinction of being among the top ten U.S. states with the highest opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2016, its opioid-related overdose death per 100,000 persons was nearly double the national rate.
Rep. Nemes said House Bill 136 is a “trust your doctor” bill, i.e. a patient’s doctor will decide if cannabis could be of benefit. He is hoping the Bill will pass the House and Senate in this session. One of the other lawmakers speaking at the press conference stressed the fact that it wasn’t a step towards recreational marijuana.
“Today is a good day,” said Rep. Nemes.
A senator supporting the Bill, Dan Seum offered a personal anecdote.
“I came from a personal base as a cancer survivor,” he said. “For those who don’t know, I had colon cancer 7 years ago. And when I left the hospital they gave me that nice bottle of Oxycontin. I threw it in the garbage can and went home and smoked a joint. And guess what, no nausea. I was able to function while I was going through the treatment.”