Foes push back against medical marijuana bill in Ky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Opponents of legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky pushed back Wednesday as the Senate gets set to decide the fate of a bill that won House passage by a wide margin.

At a statehouse news conference, the lineup of opponents included a prosecutor and a doctor. Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron said more research of medical cannabis is needed and warned that legalization could spur future efforts to allow recreational use.

“This is a slippery slope that we do not need — for the youth of … Kentucky — to go down,” he said. “We need to have the research done. If it’s a drug, we’ll have the FDA deem it a drug.”

Those arguments are an effort to keep Kentucky among the minority of states that have not legalized medical cannabis, a leading supporter of the bill said.

“The research has been done, and Kentucky is 24 years behind on cannabis legislation,” said Jaime Montalvo, executive director of Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana, speaking in an interview.

Medical marijuana is already legal in 33 states. Kentucky’s legislation would be the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the country, its supporters have said.

“This is not about fun,” Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, the bill’s lead sponsor, told reporters after last month’s House vote. “This is about healing. This is about health.”

The legislation secured House passage on a 65-30 vote Feb. 20. It marked the first time a medical marijuana bill passed either legislative chamber in Kentucky.

Senate leaders this week assigned the bill to the Judiciary Committee. The committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield, told the Courier Journal: “I know it won‘t get a hearing until I’m OK with it, and for sure I’ve still got questions right now.“

By Kerry Minor

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