Governor's Poll Shows 99% of Kentucky Residents Support Medical Marijuana
Gov. Andy Beshear is on a mission to bring medical marijuana to his state, since lawmakers have consistently failed to do so.
Published on October 5, 2022

A new report commissioned by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) has found nearly unanimous statewide support for medical cannabis legalization.

Back in 2020, shortly after Beshear took office, a poll found that 90% of Kentucky voters supported medical pot legalization. But conservative lawmakers have shut down every attempt to reform the state's antiquated cannabis laws, ignoring the will of the voters who elected them to office. Earlier this year, the state House finally passed a medical marijuana bill, but the state Senate killed it again.

This time, Beshear wasn't willing to let the matter drop. In April, the governor suggested that he would legalize medical marijuana on his own, by way of an executive order. Eventually, he settled on a safer plan, creating a 17-person advisory panel to research the possibility of legalization. Over the course of the summer, this panel held four town hall meetings to solicit public opinion on medical pot and invited residents to show their support for legalization via an anonymous online poll.

Out of the 3,539 Kentuckians who responded to the informal poll, 98.64% expressed their support for legalization. Only 48 people, or less than 2% of all respondents, said they opposed medical marijuana. And at the town hall meetings, not one single person stepped up to the mic to voice their opposition to legalizing medical pot. 

“Everyone who spoke supported legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky,” said Kerry Harvey, co-chair of the committee and secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, in a statement. “We heard from many Kentuckians that use cannabis for its beneficial medical effects but can only do so by breaking the law as it now exists. Many of these Kentuckians must leave the commonwealth to legally obtain medical cannabis in one of the 38 states where it is legal.”

At the meetings, dozens of people spoke out about the benefits of using medical cannabis, which they were forced to procure on the black market or from other states' legal markets. Some speakers recounted how cannabis had helped them cope with PTSD, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraines, depression, cancer, and dozens of other conditions. Many speakers also described how medical marijuana helped them reduce their use of dangerous opioids or other pharmaceuticals.

“Our nation is dealing with a critical crisis from the overuse of addictive opioids. The people we heard from are looking for pain relief that allows them to live useful, productive lives,” said Ray Perry, co-chair of the committee and secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet. “We heard about family trauma stemming from unresolved pain and addictive painkillers. We also heard the frustration that politics deprives them of legal access to an efficacious treatment available to an overwhelming majority of Americans.”

“Thousands of Kentuckians took advantage of the opportunity to speak to their governor concerning medical cannabis,” the committee's report concluded. “Almost all of them believe that medical cannabis should be available to Kentuckians, as it is to most of the people of our nation. They believe so based on their own experience. These Kentuckians advance the simple proposition that this substance can, in appropriate cases, relieve the unnecessary suffering of many of their fellow Kentuckians.”

Unfortunately, the committee also determined that Beshear does not have the authority to legalize medical cannabis with an executive order. The governor would be able to implement minor reforms, but full legalization will require lawmakers' full support. Fortunately, the election is only one month away, and voters will have a chance to replace conservative prohibitionists with lawmakers who will actually respect their wishes.

Cover image via

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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