The 37 states that enable medical use of marijuana don’t embody Kentucky, the place polling means that 90 % of residents favor that coverage. As a result of state legislators haven’t delivered a reform that the overwhelming majority of voters say they need, Gov. Andy Beshear this week issued a conditional pardon geared toward defending individuals who use marijuana for medical functions from prosecution for easy possession.
Beshear, a Democrat in a state the place Republicans management the legislature, offered his pardon as a commonsensical response to public opinion and the instance set by different states. “Kentuckians all through the Commonwealth undergo from a large number of medical circumstances from which they deserve reduction,” he mentioned in his government order. “In Kentucky, regardless of polling that means 90 % (90%) of Kentucky adults help legalizing medical hashish, any quantity of hashish possession, cultivation and distribution stays criminalized. Previous efforts to legalize medical hashish by way of laws have failed within the Basic Meeting, together with in the course of the 2020 Common Session and the 2022 Common Session when payments handed the Home of Representatives in bipartisan vogue, however didn’t attain debate within the Senate.”
Opposite to what you could have learn, Beshear’s government order doesn’t “legalize” medical marijuana. It doesn’t even essentially imply that sufferers who use hashish for symptom reduction will not be arrested for marijuana possession, a misdemeanor punishable by as much as 45 days in jail and a $250 fantastic. However it does imply that such people will not be prosecuted for that offense, offered they meet 4 circumstances:
1. They’ve to purchase marijuana exterior of Kentucky in a jurisdiction the place such gross sales are authorized.
2. They need to retain a receipt documenting that buy.
3. They’ve to purchase not more than eight ounces.
4. They want a “written certification” from a physician saying they’ve been identified with one among 21 listed circumstances, which embody most cancers, epilepsy, a number of sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy, and “intractable ache.”
Efficient January 1, sufferers who meet these standards will obtain a pardon for easy possession of marijuana. However that pardon isn’t a license to develop medical marijuana or to acquire it in Kentucky or another state the place it stays unlawful. Potential sources of hashish for Kentucky sufferers embody Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, and West Virginia, neighboring states the place medical marijuana is authorized.
“To get the pardon,” notes WKRC, the CBS affiliate in Cincinnati, “you will want to be charged and presumably arrested.” Rob Sanders, commonwealth’s legal professional for Kenton County, worries that Beshear’s order will trigger confusion for police, prosecutors, and sufferers. “It will be hell on prosecutors and courts to try to type out the mess created by haphazardly repealing a legislation with out the usage of the legislature,” he instructed WKRC.
As for sufferers, Sanders mentioned, “You continue to get handcuffed. You continue to get taken to jail. You continue to get booked into jail. I imply, you bond out of jail fairly quick in case your solely cost is possession of marijuana. You recognize, there’s loads of of us who will not notice that every one that is going to happen. They suppose they’ve simply acquired [a] get-out-of-jail-free card, and that is not what is going on to occur.”
Then once more, police might use their discretion to chorus from arresting individuals for marijuana possession after they have the documentation required for a pardon. Whereas a affected person in that scenario wouldn’t technically obtain a pardon, he would nonetheless profit from Beshear’s order.
“Kentuckians affected by persistent and terminal circumstances are going to have the ability to get the therapy they want with out dwelling in worry of a misdemeanor,” Beshear mentioned in a press launch. However he added that his pardon is “not an alternative choice to much-needed laws to totally legalize medical hashish.” He mentioned he would “work with lawmakers this upcoming session to push for full legalization of medical hashish,” which “would additional present reduction for these struggling, gas job progress and help Kentucky’s farmers.”