Jan. 16, 2014 — FRANKFORT The national trend toward greater acceptance of marijuana may not have reached Kentucky — but there are subtle signs of a shift in public opinion.
State Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, the chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, told advocates for medical marijuana Wednesday there is at least a chance Kentucky lawmakers might consider a restricted use of an oil derived from marijuana for treating seizure disorders.
But she cautioned advocates that asking for too much too soon from Kentuckians will doom their efforts at this time.
But that didn’t stop Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, the sponsor of a bill to legalize medical marijuana, from arguing the time has come to recognize “cannabis is medicine.”
Denton attempted to restrict discussion to uses for CBD oil derived from the plant which does not produce a psychoactive reaction or “high” but which has shown some effectiveness in reducing seizures.
Debbie McGrath, executive director of the Kentucky Epilepsy Foundation, said her daughter is one of 90,000 Kentuckians affected by epilepsy and that 40 percent of autistic children also develop epilepsy.
“I believe there is enough anecdotal evidence to believe cannabis would help those affected by epilepsy,” she said. “There are families moving from Kentucky to find treatment. We owe it to our Kentucky citizens to look at this further.”
McGrath said the oil contains no THC — the psychoactive chemical in the plant that produces smokers’ highs — or so little it does not affect the user.
That’s when things began to get a bit testy.
Jaime Montalvo of Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana said THC is a key ingredient in the medical uses of the plant. Denton reminded Montalvo and the audience she was only taking testimony on CBD oil and not the larger range of potential medical uses of marijuana.
She said advocates “want to go from zero to 60” while neither the public nor Kentucky’s lawmakers are prepared to loosen restrictions on marijuana. But she suggested a more modest approach might succeed.