Kentucky could become one of the next states to legalize the leaf for recreational purposes.
Democratic Senator Perry Clark recently showed up in Frankfort to pre-file a piece of legislation aimed at creating a taxed and regulated cannabis market throughout the Commonwealth.
The proposal, submitted under BR408, would create something similar to other recreational pot markets, pushing for adults 21 and over to have the freedom to carry up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to five plants at home for personal use.
This cannabis reform effort would set Kentucky on course to join the ranks of eight other states that have brought an end to the scourge of marijuana prohibition. It was designed to cut into the black market by establishing a system that handles marijuana in the same fashion as beer.
Even better, the bill would impose some much needed changes to the criminal justice system through the elimination of the penalties associated with the possession of marijuana.
Currently, anyone caught with up to eight ounces of weed in the Bluegrass state faces a criminal misdemeanor – a charge that comes with a penalty of up to 45 days in jail and fines reaching $250.
Clark introduced a similar measure last year entitled the “Cannabis Freedom Act,” which attempted to combine the concept of recreational and medicinal cannabis.
The lawmaker plans to take a different approach in 2017, separately introducing the recreational marijuana bill and another geared toward the creation of a statewide medical marijuana program (BR409).
While a fully legal pot market may be a long shot, there is a distinct possibility that the medical bill (Cannabis Compassion Act of 2017) will progress further than this issue ever has in the Kentucky Legislature.
Reports indicate that series of legislative meetings took place over the summer in an effort to “vet” the issue of medical marijuana. Even Republican Governor Matt Bevin has said that he would support treating medical marijuana “like any other prescription drug.”
It will be an interesting to see just how well the Kentucky Legislature deals with the issue of marijuana reform in the next few months. We should known by February whether either Clark’s proposals will get an opportunity to advance to the next level, or whether the issue will simply be ignored.