Monday, July 30, 2012

Is Kentucky moving toward marijuana?

The Democratic sponsor of a Kentucky state Senate bill to make Kentucky a medical marijuana state has a Republican opponent who also supports legalization of medical marijuana.

Sen. Perry Clark made headlines earlier this month when he admitted to recent marijuana use, a very poorly kept secret in Frankfort. His Republican opponent, Louisville businessman Chris Thieneman, condemns Sen. Clark for smoking on the job but said he supports changing state law to allow Kentuckians who gain relief from physical problems by smoking marijuana to do so.

A year ago, nervous state politicians called industrial hemp, a natural product with multiple uses and no hallucinogenic effects, a gateway drug to harder substance abuse until Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a Republican, won election statewide on a platform including advocacy for industrial hemp cultivation.

It will be interesting to see how quickly other politicians' views toward medical marijuana evolve now that Thieneman has stepped up on this issue. President Barack Obama admitted smoking marijuana on many occasions and campaigned on leaving medical marijuana users alone. In office, he has instead aggressively prosecuted medical marijuana use, to the consternation of former supporters.

In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. will hear oral arguments in a case against the Department of Drug Enforcement's efforts against marijuana use.