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Kentucky House panel advances medical marijuana bill

Karyn Czar

Medical marijuana advocates in Kentucky have cleared an initial hurdle. A state House committee advanced a bill to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Karyn Czar reports from Frankfort.

A life changing accident left Eric Crawford bound to a wheelchair and in chronic pain. It’s something he says he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. Medical marijuana gives him relief, but if he gets the drug or uses it in Kentucky, he is breaking the law. Crawford appealed to lawmakers to “stop making sick people criminals.”

“Medical cannabis relaxes my continuous uncontrollable muscle spasms. Medical cannabis relieves my constant chronic pain. Cannabis helps me.” Crawford said, “My well-respected Kentucky doctors support my choice of medicine. Medical cannabis allows me to be a more productive member of society and gives me a better quality of life.”

Republican Representative Jason Nemes spent years opposing medical marijuana legislation, now he’s the sponsor of the bill. He says it was a sit down with some of his constituents that began the shift in his thinking.

“And I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touched my hand and she said Jason listen to me for a second. It’s ok. And then she told me what it meant for her child. And they all went around the room and said what it meant to them. And I thought,” Nemus said, “I wasn’t convinced, but I thought here’s good people. Real good people. And I disagree with them. I was starting to question. So, I talked to a lot of physicians and did a whole lot of research on the issue and I was wrong

Nemes admits that the proposed bill is more restrictive than even he would like, it bans smoking and growing marijuana even for medical use, but Nemus believes it’s the one that could become law. And HB 136 is on its way, passing out of committee with bipartisan support. It now heads to the full House.

Karyn Czar joined the WUKY News team July 1, 2013, but she's no stranger to radio.