Kentucky will soon be looking into the possibility of medical marijuana reform thanks to the efforts of legislators who filed a new bill that proposes the legalization of the plan for medical use. Marijuana Moment reported that this new bill was filed right after Governor Andy Beshear expressed his support for reform at the State of Commonwealth address this January 14.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Jason Nemes, proposes that the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control would be the regulating body for the possible marijuana market. This would also exempt the market from the state excise tax.
The provision outlining the exemption of the market from the said tax will be debated by the state legislators and the Beshear’s office.
In his speech, Beshear said, “Speaking of laws that unduly restrict us from growth and innovation, it is time to legalize medical marijuana.” It is important to note that while Beshear supports the legalization and reform, he is an advocate of taxing cannabis as a way to generate revenue. However, some legislators have expressed dissent over this plan, arguing that medicine should not be subject to tax.
While there are already talks about taxation of the possible market, no requirements have been proposed for potential medical cannabis patients. In fact, the bill seeks to provide authorization to patients with any condition based on their physician’s decision. In contrast, many states with medical marijuana laws outline qualifying conditions which are grounds for the issuance of medical marijuana cards.
The new bill also seeks to enable patients to purchase up to 30 days’ worth of cannabis supply. However, the regulating body will decide the amount that would qualify for this. Moreover, the proposal would not allow personal cultivation and has given penalties for violators of any marijuana-related law.
Regarding revenue generation for the state, Nemes’ bill proposes licensing and registration fees, as well as fines and penalties as a source. However, the collected amount in related to cannabis and violation of cannabis laws will be given to a medical marijuana trust fund, which the state Finance and Administration Cabinet will handle. A huge percentage, 60%, of the revenue will be toward enforcement, 2.5% will be for implementation and grants for cannabis research, 13.75% will be for law enforcement, another 13.75% will be for dispensaries to aid low-income patients, and 10% will be for administrative costs.
While the market will not be taxed according to the proposal, a 12% excise tax will apply on some parts of the supply chain, specifically on sales between cultivators, processors, and producers. Again, 80% of the revenue will go to the trust fund while 20% will go to the local government.
Aside from the new bill that seeks to legalize medical cannabis, sponsor Nemes previously filed a medical marijuana bill, which successfully passed the House in 2020. However, it was shelved at the Senate and did not progress.
Other than Kentucky, Alabama and South Carolina also saw the filing or pre-filing of medical cannabis bills.