Earlier this year, a Kentucky lawmaker stated that she is pre-filing bills to legalize possession, restricted sales, and home horticulture of cannabis in the state for the 2022 session, with sponsors from various leading cannabis advocacy groups.
Representative Nima Kulkarni (D) is applying a two-track approach to the reform, with one measure to have the lawmakers embrace the policy as a statutory bill and another to enact cannabis legalization via a constitutional reform that would go in front of Kentucky voters.
Ordinarily speaking, the bill would accomplish the same fundamental goal of ending cannabis prohibition. Nevertheless, Kulkarni stated they’re meant to balance one another by allowing lawmakers a chance to pass cannabis legalization in the short term while permitting Kentucky voters to constitutionally ratify the change as a more stoic fix that gives cannabis use the constitutional safeguard it warrants.
‘I am sponsoring these measures for a litany of reasons, any one of which should be sufficient for them to become law,” the sponsor stated in a press announcement.
‘Current cannabis laws have carelessly ruined various lives, especially citizens of color who have endured due to unequal enforcement of cannabis laws,’ she stated. ‘Next, thousands of people, from melanoma patients to war veterans languishing from PTSD, should have the right to use a plant that gives them the mental and physical comfort they deserve without relying on more powerful, potentially addictive medication. Lastly, the decriminalization of cannabis decriminalization would grant the state a much-needed reservoir of substantial tax revenue without boosting modern taxes a single cent.’
Kulkarni added that polls ‘have repeatedly showcased a preponderance of Kentuckians backs decriminalization and permitting cannabis to be utilized responsibly by adults.’
Under one of the legislator’s pre-filed measures, constitutional reform would be placed on the ticket if three-fifths of the Kentucky House of Representative and Senate approve it during the 2022 legislative session. If passed by Kentucky voters, adults 21 and older would be able to own, buy and sell up to one ounce (28 grams) of traditional cannabis. They could also cultivate up to five cannabis plants for private use.
The bill would employ the General Assembly with creating the regulations on matters such as cannabis licensing, social equity of cannabis licensing, and tax allocation.
The separate statutory measure would likely remove criminal fines for low-level cannabis possession, cannabis cultivation, and exchange of cannabis. It would also change Kentucky statutes so that cannabis equipment would no longer be illegal and create a road for people to have low-level cannabis convictions expunged or sealed.
Neither bill creates a regulatory structure for retail cannabis sales, something that would be directed to separate cannabis legislation.
‘ Due to the outdated and ill-enforced laws, a plethora of Kentuckians have lost time and chances thanks to silly, simple criminal convictions, and a plethora more have endured needlessly due to how Kentucky blocks cannabis’ medical use,’ ACLU of Kentucky summarily stated. It is due time for the population to join the 36 other states that have eliminated most if not all of the anti-cannabis limitations, which is why we are proud to attach our name to those advocating for Rep. Nima Kulkarni’s measure.’
While Kentucky is known for its hemp market, wider shades of cannabis reform have been perpetually delayed.
The Republican sponsor of a measure to legalize medicinal cannabis in Kentucky stated that he created various revisions to the measure to scale it back and annex restrictions to collect more backing from colleagues—and he stated he’s positive it would pass if legislative leaders had the “courage” to directly allow a vote on the measure.
We will update you on Kentucky’s cannabis reform as they materialize next year.