Kentucky’s Baptist Convention and its leader Mr. Paul Chitwood bragged at the end of the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly that they were responsible for stopping any cannabis legalization bills from being heard in committee and moving forward. Bills involving cannabis legalization did not progress beyond committee level during that session.
It was pointed out at the time that given the 25% drop in opioid overdose deaths that occurs after the first of cannabis legalization in a State, Mr. Chitwood and his Baptists are also responsible for the deaths that would not have happened had they not blocked cannabis legalization. The 25% drop in deaths means approximately 400 of our citizens would still be alive had they not blocked these bills.
This session Mr. Chitwood and his Baptist Convention are at it again. Cannabis bills for the 2018 session are currently in the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee. Sources familiar with the situation report that the Chair of the Committee, Kentucky State Senator Albert Robinson has been told by Republican Senate Leadership not to allow any cannabis bills to be heard by his committee. Senate Republican leadership is receiving pressure from the Baptist Convention and Mr. Chitwood. Also the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Joe Fischer in whose committee HB 166 a companion medical cannabis bill currently resides, has also been told by leadership not to allow any cannabis bills to be heard and indeed the bill was pulled from the Committee meeting on 14 Feb, 2018.
There was to be a protest at the Veterans Committee hearing on Thursday Feb 15 2018. 22 Kentucky Veterans representing the 22 Veterans who die of suicide nationally every day were to gather at the Veterans Committee hearing and several were to speak. Senator Robinson at first said he would not allow speakers at the hearing and then cancelled the hearing all together. Veterans gathered anyway and showed their frustration with the lack of progress of these bills. They met with Governor Bevin who said he would support a republican medical cannabis bill.
Although buoyed by the Governors words, organizers of the Veteran protest were dismayed and are asking how a measure favored by 80% of Kentucky’s citizens could be quashed in such a fashion and say Senate leaders need to clearly explain why they are blocking cannabis measures that are clearly favored by the vast majority of Kentucky’s citizens.