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Grimes, Medical Marijuana Task Force Unveil Proposed Legislation


Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Rep. John Sims, and members of their medical marijuana task force on Thursday unveiled the legislative proposal that is the result of their discussions. Sims filed House Bill 166 Wednesday.

"What started as a whisper years ago is now a loud chorus. Kentuckians have declared 2018 as the year they expect action on medical marijuana from their legislators," said Grimes. "Now, with 29 states and the District of Columbia offering relief in the form of medical marijuana to their citizens, we must waste no more time. We've heard real, heart-wrenching stories from all over the Commonwealth about how access to cannabis can provide long-lasting and life-changing relief. The serious discussions this task force had have resulted in a solid piece of legislation that can change lives."

At a press conference, Grimes called on Kentuckians who are passionate about medical marijuana to join a campaign to educate and lobby the General Assembly in support of House Bill 166.

"Where there is skepticism, let it be met with education. If you are one of the thousands of Kentuckians who support medical marijuana, join us. We need your voice," Grimes said. "Call, write, send a Facebook message, tweet to your legislators. Let no more time be wasted. Tell them you expect action in this session."

The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reports that opioid overdose deaths have fallen by 25% in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

In Kentucky, where the 2014 veteran suicide was 10% higher than the national average, many veterans say that medical cannabis is the most effective treatment for chronic pain and PTSD. Several veterans attended Wednesday's announcement.

Besides PTSD, significant evidence exists showing medical marijuana counters side effects of many other illnesses and diseases, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, and hepatitis C.

Becca Weinhandl told the story of her two-year-old daughter Carlee, who has been diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Weinhandl said she had to move her family to Colorado so Carlee could get medical cannabis treatment that eliminated nearly all of the symptoms of her illnesses. An accident her husband suffered forced them back to Kentucky.

"Since being back, Carlee hasn't been able to get treatment. Her seizures are coming back without the medicine. She can't speak for herself, so I have to speak for her. Imagine being a mother whose daughter you have to see suffer every single day – and you know there's medicine that can help her – but the law is blocking you. Please help us get this done for my daughter and so many others," Weinhandl said.

Maysville resident Eric Crawford, a constituent of Rep. Sims and member of the medical cannabis panel, said he will lead a relentless effort to get House Bill 166 passed into law.

Crawford was in a car accident as a young man that left him with debilitating pain and paralysis. He displayed the dozens of prescription pain relievers, including narcotics, he had been prescribed and have many adverse side effects. Crawford said he experiences the most relief with cannabis.

"I've been living in pain for too many years. Thankfully, I have found medical marijuana works," Crawford said. "I want the relief I experience – natural, organic relief – to be accessible to every Kentuckian who needs it. And let every legislator know, in 2018 Kentuckians are watching. We are expecting you to act. You will hear from us."

Grimes and Sims' task force includes members of Kentucky's medical community, including doctors, nurses and medical administrators, as well as representatives from law enforcement and state agencies with regulatory oversight, medical marijuana advocates, and military veterans.

"House Bill 166 is the best bill in the United States of America for medical cannabis," said Sims. "There have been hours, weeks, and months spent on this bill to make it the gold standard. This about improving the health of Kentuckians."

Rep. Al Gentry is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

To contact your legislator in support of House Bill 166, call 1-800-372-7181.

(provided by Secretary of State for Kentucky)

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."
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