Beshear signs into law bills on marijuana oil, tax breaks, e-cigarette sales to minors

jbrammer@herald-leader.comApril 10, 2014 

FRANKFORT -- Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law several major bills Thursday, including limited use of marijuana oil for people with seizures, tax breaks for a proposed 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington and the state’s bourbon and beer industries and a ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors.

Beshear has vetoed no legislation sent to him by this year’s General Assembly. Lawmakers are to return to Frankfort on Monday after a two-week recess to consider any gubernatorial vetoes. The legislative session cannot run past April 15.

Beshear put his signature Thursday on Senate Bill 124, which allows the hospitals at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville to provide oil derived from marijuana and hemp to children who suffer from certain severe seizures. The benefits also could apply to adults.

The substance would be allowed when recommended by doctors practicing at the research hospitals. The bill also would allow anyone enrolled in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration trial to be treated with the oil.

The measure was one of the most emotional discussed in this year’s legislative session. Several parents with children who suffer with seizures lobbied for it. The legislation marks the first time Kentucky has used any extract from marijuana plants for medicinal purposes.

In a statement, Beshear said the bill "will allow families experiencing difficult health problems new options for treatment."

"Both our law enforcement leaders and our drug policy director worked with the legislators on this bill, and they gave the bill their support. Because the bill has been carefully constructed to require that any prescriptive recommendation for the oil can come only from physicians at the state’s research universities or through an FDA clinical trial, I am confident that this law will provide the relief that these families seek, without creating complications for our law enforcement community."

Beshear also signed into law Thursday House Bill 445, a revenue bill that accompanied the state’s two-year budget.

Besides offering tax breaks for several businesses, it makes several gambling-related changes, including a new tax on advance-deposit wagering and reinstituting a tax on instant racing machines. It also allows the Kentucky Lottery to advertise that its proceeds help finance education and other government programs.

Overall, the revenue bill means less money for the state – a move that upset some legislators who also said it makes it harder for the legislature to ever enact tax reform.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the bill would cut revenue for the state by about $9 million to $10 million, mostly in the second year of the state's two-year, $20.3 billion budget.

Also signed into law Thursday by the governor were Senate Bill 109, which prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and House Bill 81, which requires the displaying of the national motto, "In God We Trust," in legislative committee rooms in the Capitol and Capitol Annex.

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