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  • D.H. Reilly

Looking Back and Ahead: How 2021 Brought us Closer to Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

To those who have been desperately waiting for relief, it might seem like cold comfort to say that we’re getting closer and closer to the day when you’ll be able to get a Kentucky Marijuana Card. But cold comfort or not, 1) it’s the only comfort we have to offer and 2) we are getting closer and closer to that day.

In fact, looking back at 2021, we can see the year as a story about how more and more Kentuckians and their politicians voiced their support for a safe, effective, natural medicine that’s already legal in thirty-six states, and as that support grows, the wait for medical marijuana in Kentucky shrinks.

Public Wants Medical Marijuana, Emboldening Some Politicians to Voice Their Support

One obvious trend over the last year is that more and more of us are supporting medical marijuana.

Nationally, we learned this year that 91% of Americans support medical marijuana. That finding matched up almost exactly with support for the medicine here in Kentucky.

As the Public’s Opinions Change, so do Politicians’

It’s obvious that elected officials cannot continue to oppose medical marijuana in the face of that kind of public support, and sure enough we’ve seen politicians changing their tunes on medical marijuana of late.

Once a state governed by nothing but staunch prohibitionists, Kentucky now has a number of lawmakers who support medical marijuana, and half of the legislature has overwhelmingly supported bills to make it a reality here.

Public Opinion About Medical Marijuana Hasn’t Swayed the Kentucky Senate Yet

Changing public opinion led to the House overwhelmingly passing a medical marijuana bill in 2020. The sponsor of that bill, Representative Jason Nemes, reintroduced the bill in 2021. In both years, the Senate refused to even take up the legislation for debate.

Still, progress is progress, and there has indeed been progress. A medical marijuana bill was also introduced in the Senate this year, and while it too failed to get any traction, the fact is that one house has overwhelmingly supported medical marijuana and officials in the other house are starting to voice their support as well.

Medical Marijuana Advocates in Kentucky Stymied by Covid

One of the big roadblocks between Kentuckians and relief this past year was Covid. In addition to demanding much of lawmakers’ attention and efforts over the past two years, Covid restrictions limited the work that medical marijuana advocates were able to do in 2021.

Julie Cantwell, of Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, told Spectrum News 1 that lobbying and advocacy efforts were impaired by the limited in-person work they were able to do due to Covid policies.

“If (lawmakers) can see us in person and they can hear our stories, they have more incentive to actually act,” Cantwell said.

Medical Marijuana Supporters in Frankfort Remain Undeterred

When medical marijuana advocates are able to return to the state Capitol, they’ll find allies waiting for them.

For example, Representative Nemes said he’ll continue to fight for medical marijuana in 2022. Furthermore, he has made changes to his previous bills in an attempt to garner support in the Senate, and Nemes feels this tactic will pay off.

While he said he was disappointed in the compromises he had to make in order to craft a passable bill, Nemes told WDRB, Louisville’s Fox affiliate, that it would still help bring relief to Kentuckians.

“This bill ain't no joke," Nemes said. "We're talking about medical cannabis. We're talking about helping people who need help."

Governor Beshear Voices Support for Medical Marijuana

In yet another sign that Kentucky is heading towards medical marijuana, Governor Andy Beshear voiced his support for the medicine in 2021.

Beshear told WEVV, the CBS/Fox affiliate in Evansville, Indiana, that “Kentucky should definitely move forward with medical marijuana. It is past time.”

The governor cited the economic advantages of embracing medical marijuana, saying “Kentucky and our topography, our farmers could benefit significantly from legalization of medicinal marijuana and then allowing them to grow medicinal marijuana for other states.”

But Beshear also emphasized the morality of allowing suffering people access to a safe and effective medicine, saying “Listen, this is the future. It's where things are going. It's time we joined so many other states in doing the right thing.”

Medical Science Continues to Find Evidence of Medical Marijuana’s Efficacy, Safety

Outside of the world of politics, 2021 also saw medical science discovering more and more evidence of the medical value of cannabis.

For example, there was the study presented at the 2021 meeting of the American College of Rheumatology that found that Fibromyalgia patients experienced reduced pain intensity, improved sleep problems, less anxiety and depression, and a reported increase in feelings of well-being after using medical marijuana.

Then there was the article published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecules that found that medical marijuana may provide relief from neuropathic pain by interacting with receptors in the body to create an analgesic effect. That was big news, as neuropathy is one of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.

Finally, there was the 2021 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychiatry that found that medical marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. When one considers how prevalent these conditions are, one can see just how exciting this research is.

Worldwide there are more than thirty million people suffering from depression, here at home, as many as nine million Americans are living with generalized anxiety disorder, and the CDC reports that about 70 million Americans have chronic sleep issues. While we may not have the equivalent statistics for Kentucky alone, it’s apparent that medical marijuana could spell relief for a whole lot of people in the Bluegrass State.

2021 Helped Pave the Way for Medical Marijuana in 2022

While we can’t predict exactly when medical marijuana will come to Kentucky, the fact is that 2021 moved us closer to that day. With the House and governor on our side, public opinion pressuring the holdouts in the Senate, and medical science continuing to find reasons to support easing cannabis prohibitions, it’s only a matter of time before relief is available to everyone who needs it in Kentucky.

Don’t Wait to Get Started with Medical Marijuana

While you won’t be able to get medical marijuana here until the Senate catches up to the 21st century, you can get started on your medical marijuana journey right now!

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. You’ll discuss your conditions and how medical marijuana may be able to treat them without even leaving your home. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

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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