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Medical Marijuana Wins Landmark Vote In Kentucky House

Josh James

Medical marijuana advocates are cheering a historic Kentucky House vote to allow patients to obtain legal cannabis in the state. The bill won support from more than two-thirds of the Republican-led chamber.

For medical marijuana advocates, Thursday was a long time in coming.

"I'm excited and emotional," said Alexandria Fulkerson, part of a crowd of relieved supporters exchanging hugs outside the chamber. "I'm doing this for my daughter. She has epilepsy and I just... really need it."

The bill's lead sponsor and champion in the House, Louisville Republican Jason Nemes, said the 65-30 vote tally puts the bill in a strong position as it faces a tougher audience down the hall.

"We think it's a bill that we'll have the votes in the Senate for, and it's time to go over there and start making the case stronger than we've made it before," the lawmaker said.

But passage in the House was no easy feat, coming after hours of floor debate and a flurry of amendments, including successful additions that prohibit the minors from purchasing medical marijuana and sellers from advertising it.

The changes weren't enough to convince Lexington Rep. Stan Lee, who warned that the vote puts Kentucky on the road to okaying recreational usage.

"If you lift the tent up a little and let this nose in, you ain't going to stop it," the GOP lawmaker counseled. "Everybody knows that."

It's an argument that's likely to come up again soon as newly energized supporters take their movement to the Senate.