Medicinal Cannabis Hearing Arouses Passions

Jan 9, 2014

The legalization of medical marijuana was the subject of a lively hearing before the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday.

Legislators heard emotional testimony from parents who say their children have benefited from the treatment.

"Medicinal cannabis is on the rise. There is something going on here. There is a therapeutic benefit and I truly believe it is coming to Kentucky," Josh Stanley with the Realm of Caring Dispensary in Colorado told the panel.

The presentation also included testimony from parents who are seeking cannabis-based treatment for their children, in the hopes of limiting the effects of epilepsy and a host of other diseases. Eric Byrd moved from Kentucky to Colorado for that reason and now says his son, Charlie, suffers about as a third as many seizures as he did prior to undergoing the treatment.

"This is the choice we had in Kentucky, to leave our family, our churches, our careers, to leave the life I've known for 35 years. I chose to do that. Other families here will choose to do that if you don't pass these laws to allow medicinal cannabis. And I know it works," Byrd said tearfully.

Still, several representatives were cautious in embracing the effort, which some worry could start Kentucky down a slippery slope to legalizing recreational use.

"I could likewise fill this committee room with first responders, law enforcement officers, and parents of dead children based on the effects of marijuana, of driving intoxicated," Rep. Robert Benvenuti countered over shouts from the audience.

Rep. Ben Waide told audience the presentation had been educational and he would like to see more discussion about medical cannabis, but warned that the inclusion of recreational use would likely make the issue a non-starter for many in the General Assembly. 

The matter will come before the committee again as more hearings are scheduled.

CORRECTION: Josh Stanley is no longer employed by The Realm of Caring Foundation. Also the foundation is not a dispensary but a 501c3 non-profit that acts as an intermediary service between production and its patients. WUKY apologizes for the error.