For several years, Eric Crawford, 46, of Maysville has been urging Kentucky lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana to ease his debilitating pain from glaucoma and being in a wheelchair since a 1994 accident.
Crawford and his wife, Michelle Crawford, were at a House Judiciary Committee meeting Monday to hear a discussion on House Bill 166, which would create a legal framework for medical marijuana.
The Crawfords will have to wait another day to see if the measure is going to get out of committee this legislative session.
The panel heard Monday only from proponents of the bill. Committee chairman Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, said a special meeting will be held Tuesday upon adjournment of the House to vote on it.
The primary sponsor of the bill, Rep. John Sims, D-Flemingsburg, said the committee vote appears to be “close” and that major opponents of the bill like the Kentucky Sheriffs Association and the Kentucky Medical Association still are to be heard.
Sims said he supports the bill because research and studies show that medical marijuana is effective in certain situations.
It basically would require a doctor to recommend medical marijuana before a patient could get it. It would be dispensed through a state-regulated dispensary. A city or a county would have a local-option vote to allow the medical marijuana.
If the local government doesn’t act on it in two years, residents could petition for a vote, similar to a wet-dry vote, said Sims.
He said there would be nine legal ways to ingest medical cannabis, but not by smoking it in public.
Sims noted that 29 states and the District of Columbia offer medical marijuana and that Virginia and Tennessee are considering it this year.
He also claimed the bill will create jobs and help curb the state’s opioid crisis.
Also testifying for the bill Monday were state Sen. Steve West, R-Paris; Rep. Al Gentry, D-Louisville; and Jaime Montalvo, director of Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana.
Montalvo said the bill could help 100,000 to 150,000 Kentuckians.
The Lexington city council voted unanimously last month to support medical marijuana, becoming the largest city in Kentucky to back efforts to allow some patients access to marijuana.
Bullitt County, Maysville and Mason County have passed similar resolutions in recent years. . The Louisville Metro Council is weighing a similar resolution.
HB 166 is a product of a task force convened last year by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Chaired by Sims, it held three public meetings.
Grimes, a Democrat, was not at Monday’s committee meeting but she has said “Kentuckians have declared 2018 as the year they expect action on medical marijuana from their legislators.”
“I sure hope so,” said Crawford, who said he is afraid to take prescription pain medicine out of a fear of becoming addicted.