In April 2014, Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a bill that allows doctors at two Kentucky research hospitals to prescribe cannabidiol to treat patients. The oil gets a lot of attention because it comes from marijuana plants. But Kentucky plans to get its supply from industrial hemp crops that at least seven Kentucky farmers plan to plant next month (Beshear signs cannabis oil bill, 2014).
Supporters of the bill note that cannabidiol has been particularly effective in treating seizures in children. That’s one of the main reasons state Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, sponsored the bill. Denton has a daughter who once suffered from epilepsy.
“People were having to move out of our state to go and live in Colorado or California just so they could get this. I thought that was crazy,” Denton said. “If it’s really great, we should have that available for our folks here in Kentucky (Beshear signs cannabis oil bill, 2014).”
Debbie McGrath, who is executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana, said about 30,000 children in the state suffer from epilepsy and about a third suffer from the severe seizures targeted by the bill (Marijuana oil bill passes Kentucky Senate, 2014).
Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, an outspoken proponent of medical marijuana, voted for the bill but has said it doesn’t go far enough. “Families in Kentucky are uprooting their lives and taking their children to Colorado,” Clark said, calling for broader approvals this legislative session. “To do this measure really only shortchanges science and it shortchanges medicine (Marijuana oil bill passes Kentucky Senate, 2014).”
Logistical and legal issues have meant the marijuana oil program never got off the ground despite last year’s unanimous approval by the legislature. Doctors and researchers have said it could take years to begin trials treating epileptic children with marijuana oil because of the limited availability of marijuana oil, the possible need for approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the cost of studies that preliminary estimates say could be $10,000 per participant (Advocate: Medical marijuana bill may go up in smoke, February 2015).
Medical Marijuana Bill
Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg filed House Bill 3 in the 2015 legislative session. HB 3 would create a medical marijuana program in Kentucky that would be operated by the Department for Public Health. Patients would have to be diagnosed by a doctor and carry a program identification card. It also requires patients under 18 to receive marijuana with a low-THC content, protects physicians from marijuana-program prosecution, prohibits operating motor vehicles under the influence (Advocate: Medical marijuana bill may go up in smoke, February 2015).”
Last November Jaime Montalvo, the founder and president of Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, told the Joint Licensing and Occupations committee about the need for a law that would let him treat his multiple sclerosis as people in 23 states and the District of Columbia, where the plant can be used medically. Montalvo and other supporters of medicinal use of the plant say it can treat a range of ailments or their symptoms — including cancer-related nausea, pain and glaucoma — without the side effects of existing medications (Ky. medical marijuana doubtful despite support, 2014).
Supporters of medical marijuana say it can help treat maladies such as post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, seizures and rheumatoid arthritis. Montalvo would like to use it to help deal with his multiple sclerosis (Advocate: Medical marijuana bill may go up in smoke, February 2015).
While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the U.S. Justice Department has issued guidelines under which it wouldn’t interfere with state marijuana laws — if certain requirements, including having regulatory structure, preventing sales to minors and preventing marijuana from getting to gangs — are met.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. One year ago, a Bluegrass Poll of registered Kentucky voters found that 52 percent favored "allowing the use of medical marijuana in Kentucky." Thirty-seven percent were opposed, and 12 percent said they weren't sure (Kentucky lawmakers discuss medical marijuana bill, but no vote is planned, February, 2015).
Unfortunately HB 3 didn’t make it out of committee and no vote was planned on the bill for the 2015 legislative session (Kentucky lawmakers discuss medical marijuana bill, but no vote is planned, February 2015). One can speculate that the required support to pass the bill wasn’t present in the General Assembly or the Senate.
Medical Marijuana Bill Opposition
Critics of medical marijuana say generally that medical use is not supported by scientific evidence and ultimately leads to recreational abuse and illegal trafficking under the guise of medicine (Ky. medical marijuana doubtful despite support, 2014).
But Montalvo cites a study published this summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Internal Medicine publication that found increases in opioid deaths were about 25 percent less than expected in states with legal medical marijuana than states where it's illegal (Ky. medical marijuana doubtful despite support, 2014).
In the Senate, President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says he wants proof that marijuana carries the benefits its supporters say it does. Also, the head of the Kentucky Baptist Convention is against the concept (Advocate: Medical marijuana bill may go up in smoke, February 2015).
Stivers said he'd like to see scientific studies that show medical marijuana has a definite medical value.
"I want something that is research-based that says there is therapeutic value," he said.
Stivers said no Republican member has said they want to vote on medical marijuana.
The marijuana oil measure passed because it had empirical evidence of therapeutic impact, Stivers said, "and until that happens (with medical marijuana) in a similar vein, I can't see me or the Senate taking it up (Ky. medical marijuana doubtful despite support, 2014)."
Scientific Research Supporting the Medical Benefits of Marijuana
Stivers wants scientific studies proving marijuana’s medical value? Is he saying he would vote in favor of a medical marijuana bill if such research is presented? There are many reliable studies and research papers, just none supported by the government unless they are designed to show harm.
Most all research can be found here:
http://norml.org/library or here,
Sticking with cancer, this link, should certainly convince anyone that there is medical value in marijuana.
For epilepsy or seizures here,
And for a host of other conditions and the most recent research on marijuana as medicine here, http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana
As you can see there is more than enough research to show that marijuana is medicine (Kentuckians deserve access to medical marijuana, 2014).
A Call to Action?
Sounds like Stivers wants scientific research extolling the benefits of medical marijuana. Can the libertarians in Kentucky answer the call? If we want this issue to move forward we need to inundate Stivers with the research evidence he demands. Contact Senator Robert Stivers below and provide him with any available research touting the medical benefits of marijuana.