Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Editorials

March 5, 2014

Legalized marijuana, hemp must be explored

March 5, 2014 — Whether you call it marijuana or cannabis or whether you believe someone can get high on industrial hemp, Kentucky is making history with both plants.

A bill to legalize marijuana for medical purposes has advanced to the House floor in the General Assembly.

HB 350 came out of the House Health and Welfare Committee on a 9-5 vote but it did come out.

The same committee in the Senate gave near unanimous approval to SB 124 which would allow limited medicinal use of oil derived from hemp and marijuana.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and U. S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are voicing support of pilot projects for growing industrial hemp for research purposes.

Public opinion polls about marijuana and hemp show attitudes are changing with 52 percent of Kentucky voters saying they favor legalization of medical marijuana.

A national poll last fall found that 58 percent of Americans feel the same.

An Internet poll conducted by The Morehead News last month produced even higher numbers, showing 75 percent in favor of Kentucky joining 20 other states with legalized marijuana.

We recognize that law enforcement and anti-drug abuse groups see marijuana as the gateway drug to more dangerous substances.

Police generally are critical of cultivation of hemp because it resembles marijuana during its growing cycle, allowing real pot to be grown in the same fields.

Ironically, the soil qualities that have grown burley tobacco so well for two centuries are ideal for growing marijuana and hemp.

We believe it is wrong to let people suffer pain or seizures when medical marijuana or an oil-based derivative could be provided under strict controls.

This issue is emotionally charged but it must be thoroughly and rationally examined outside the influence of those who fear it and those who want to get rich from it.

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