Kentucky leaders are begging the courts to dismiss a lawsuit suggesting that the state’s laws against marijuana are unconstitutional.
According to a report from the Lexington Herald-Leader, Governor Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear are working to persuade a judge in Frankfort to dismiss a case calling for the legalization of medical marijuana. The motion, which was submitted on Monday in Franklin Circuit Court, suggests that the question of medical marijuana is one that should be handled by the General Assembly, not the judicial system.
“Since at least 2014, the legislature has debated bills advocating for the lawful use of medicinal marijuana in every legislative session,” attorney Barry Dunn wrote on behalf of the governor. “The General Assembly will consider legalizing medicinal marijuana again in the 2018 session. It is solely within the General Assembly’s constitutional powers to determine whether to make medicinal marijuana lawful.”
The complaint goes on to say that the state is currently in compliance with the laws established by the federal government, which indicate that the possession of marijuana, a Schedule I dangerous drug under the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act, is to be considered an unlawful act.
“Even if the court chooses to issue an injunction that rules Kentucky’s marijuana statutes violate its constitution, federal law bars the relief that the plaintiffs seek,” Dunn wrote. “Because federal law will continue to prohibit marijuana use regardless of this case, and because federal law preempts state law on this point, any opinion the court issues will be advisory only.”
The lawsuit in question is one recently filed by a small group of Kentucky residents (Dan Seum Jr., Amy Stalker and Danny Belcher) who claim the state’s ban on medical marijuana violates the plaintiffs' rights under the Kentucky Constitution to be free of the “absolute and arbitrary power” of the government over their “lives, liberty, and property.”
“The exercise of the commonwealth’s police powers to criminalize cannabis for medicinal purposes is an unjust result of the broad prohibition against cannabis and has wrought an unjust hardship for Mr. Seum, Ms. Stalker, Mr. Belcher and thousands of other medical cannabis users in Kentucky who were left with the unconscionable choice to either live in permanent pain from their illnesses, risk taking highly addictive and proven deadly opioids or benzodiazepines, or live as criminals for their use of cannabis to treat their illnesses,” the lawsuit reads.
Although both Governor Bevin and Attorney General Beshear, the two defendants mentioned in the suit, are calling for the case to be thrown out of court, only Beshear is dead set against the legalization of medical marijuana.
Earlier this year, Bevin told WHAS Newsradio 840 that, “I am not against the idea of medical marijuana if prescribed like other drugs, if administered in the same way that we would other pharmaceutical drugs. I think it would be appropriate in many respects. It has absolute medicinal value. But again, that’s a function of (a bill) making its way to me. I don’t get to do that executively, it would have to be a bill.”
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As for Beshear, he would rather wait until the cannabis plant is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before allowing patients all across Kentucky to gain access.
The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard on July 24.