And so another session of the Kentucky Assembly comes to an end without passage of a comprehensive cannabis bill. State Senator John Schickel assured the 75% of our citizens who are supporters of cannabis law reform that there would be hearings in the interim and something might get done next year. That’s interesting because it’s the same thing they have been told for the last 5 years!
One wonders, with 23 States and the District of Columbia having medical cannabis laws, and 4 states and DC having passed recreational cannabis laws, exactly what could possibly be learned from hearings in the interim that haven’t already been brought forward? There have been dozens of hearings right here in Kentucky over the last 5 years. I doubt if our Legislators will find anything new on this subject.
Why our Legislators took no action this year is puzzling given the benefits of legalization being realized in other states. The massive amount of economic activity, revenue and job creation experienced in Colorado will certainly be experienced here should legalization occur.
Colorado for example garnered 135 million in revenue from 947 million in sales for 2015. Slightly more than half was from recreational sales and the rest from medical sales with 21,000 jobs created in the industry. Colorado along with the states with medical cannabis laws also experienced a large drop in opioid overdose deaths and a nominal drop in suicides.
Statistically here in Kentucky we can expect approximately 280 deaths to occur during the next year because of our failure to pass a comprehensive bill this year. Having already lost a family member to overdose death I can only hope that none of my family members are in that 280 for next year.
What could it be that is so terrible about legalizing marijuana that we would accept these avoidable deaths with a shrug and a ‘maybe next year’? Certainly it can’t be safety, the Administrative Law Judge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Judge Andrew Young, ruled as far back as 1988 that marijuana was, “the safest therapeutic substance known to man.” And there is the practical evidence from California where the citizens have had a medical marijuana program since 1996, twenty years, and none of the predicted harms have materialized.
Could it be fear? So far no politician has been punished by the voters for passing a marijuana reform bill anywhere.
Sadly maybe it’s just arrogance and the inability to admit that what they have been told for 79 years about marijuana, information some hung their careers on, was a complete lie. They can’t accept it even when confronted with the evidence, especially when you realize some of our legislators are prosecutors and know better.
Whatever the reason, it certainly cannot justify the cavalier attitude of our legislators regarding the avoidable deaths they must accept to be able to say, “Maybe next year”.