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  • D.H. Reilly

Governor Clears the Way for Cannabis Research Center to Open

We may not be able to get a Kentucky Marijuana Card soon, but Governor Beshear used his line-item veto power to make a recently passed piece of cannabis legislation as pro-marijuana as he could.

The governor expanded the legislature-approved scope of the work to be done at a soon-to-be established medical marijuana research center at the University of Kentucky and relaxed the amount of oversight the center will receive from the state government.

While the move is seen as part of the governor’s recent promise to use his executive power to do as much as he can to reform Kentucky’s marijuana laws, the governor has also said that he plans to do much more to advance the cause of medical marijuana here. That may be a good thing politically for the governor, as some of his constituents are unsatisfied with expanded marijuana research and want expanded access instead.

Veto Move by Beshear Part of Larger Promise to Influence Marijuana Reform

We told you last month about Governor Beshear’s pledge to explore what steps he could take unilaterally to bypass a legislature that has been slow to embrace medical marijuana, a medicine that has already been legalized in thirty-seven states.

That promise followed a legislative session in which the House passed a medical marijuana bill only to see Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer refuse to bring it to a vote in his chamber. Thayer said the bill didn’t have enough support in the Senate to pass, but also declined to say exactly how many of his fellow GOP senators stood for and against the bill.

In response to the Senate’s inaction, Beshear told WUKY, the University of Kentucky’s NPR affiliate, “I'm going to have certainly our attorneys in the executive branch, as well as others that are interested, look at and explore every other option (for marijuana reform). This is the will of the people. I hope that the legislative branch will listen to it. If not, we're going to explore executive options.”

It would appear the governor’s actions on this research bill are a part of that decision, as they deliberately made the bill more reform-friendly by expanding the center’s work and restricting the state’s power over it.

“I am vetoing these parts because they limit the purpose of the center and dictate who the president of the University of Kentucky should consider appointing to the advisory board after giving the president of the university sole appointing power,” Beshear said. The governor also vetoed the funding structure established by the bill, saying that “ongoing appropriations may be necessary.”

Researcher Promises to Objectively Study Both “The Risks and Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Spectrum News 1 spoke with a University of Kentucky researcher about the nascent center, and she described the type of research that will be conducted there into the medicinal qualities of cannabis.

“The legislature’s really interested in having us explore the conditions for which medical marijuana or cannabis might be useful,” Dr. Shanna Babalonis told Spectrum News 1. Babalonis is an assistant professor of behavioral science and a marijuana researcher at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

“The goal is to really look at what doses and what route may be effective for different conditions, because we don’t always know the answers to that. We know medical cannabis is effective for chemotherapy, nausea and vomiting, but we don’t know the other outcomes for cancer patients.”

Babalonis told Spectrum News 1 that among other things the center will study how cannabis interacts with other medications, if it can improve sleep quality, and if it can contribute to overall quality of life. “The goal of this center is really to look at the risks and benefits of medical marijuana for certain conditions where we think it may be helpful,” she said.

The objectivity of the research to be conducted aside, Babalonis said the university “is very excited and very grateful for the center and the funding. It will really help accelerate the pace and the number of research studies we can do in the area. UK is one of the few places in the country that can do placebo-controlled, randomized trials with cannabis. We just feel really grateful that the state recognizes that and is supporting those efforts. This support is only going to help further the science on the topic.”

Center Called “A Step in the Right Direction,” but Medical Marijuana Advocates Demand More

While Spectrum News 1 reports that many are calling the center “a step in the right direction,” it isn’t enough of a step to appease medical marijuana advocates who are tired of waiting for the relief only cannabis can offer.

“We don’t need any cannabis research centers,” Julie Cantwell, a member and the founder of Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, told the news site.

“We already have 37 states plus Washington, D.C., and the studies have already been done,” Cantwell said. “I think it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money to bring a cannabis research center to Kentucky. There are sick people that need cannabis right now. We know it works. We’ve seen it work. What we need is legalization right now. We need safe access and legal medical cannabis right now. We don’t need more studies. Studies have been going on for years and years and years. We know it works. Period.”

Why Wait for Results We Already Know? Get Started With Medical Marijuana Today!

While it’s frustrating that we have to continue to wait for medical marijuana here in Kentucky, at least the governor has started taking what steps he can to move the process along, and at least you don’t have to wait to find out if medical marijuana might be right for you!

Reserve a medical marijuana evaluation online today with one of our compassionate doctors, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as Kentucky’s medical marijuana market is up and running.

You’ll meet with your doctor virtually using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment to discuss your conditions. You’ll learn how medical marijuana may be able to help you find relief, without even leaving your home. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!


Doctors Who Care.

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Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6360, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

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