FRANKFORT, Ky. — Fifteen states have legalized marijuana completely, including four states where voters approved it at the ballot box in November.
What You Need To Know
- Bill filed by Northern Kentucky lawmaker would legalize marijuana
- Marijuana is completely legal in Illinois, and medical marijuana is available in Missouri, West Virginia, and Ohio
- House Bill 467 would legalize cannabis in the Commonwealth, creating a system where it would be taxed and some money would go to addiction treatment programs and small business grants for minorities
- Most of the revenue would go into the state’s general fund
A new bill filed by a Northern Kentucky lawmaker would add the Commonwealth to that list.
“Cannabis is being grown in Kentucky, it’s being sold in Kentucky, it’s being consumed in Kentucky,” said Rep. Rachel Roberts (D-Newport). “What’s not happening is it’s not being regulated, and it’s not being taxed.”
On top of that, marijuana is completely legal in Illinois, and medical marijuana is available in Missouri, West Virginia, and Ohio — just a short drive from Roberts’ district.
“I think this is another one of those places where we can really fall behind,” Roberts said. “And it’s a place that we could fall behind in an industry that we are uniquely set up to excel in. We have the farm land; we have the farm knowledge.”
House Bill 467 would legalize cannabis in the Commonwealth, creating a system where it would be taxed and some money would go to addiction treatment programs and small business grants for minorities.
Most of the revenue would go into the state’s general fund.
“This is a long-term revenue stream. It’s a new signature industry for Kentucky, so I wanted there to be the flexibility built into the bill that the funds could be used for what’s important out into the future, which is why so much of it is dedicated to the general fund.”
The bill is largely modeled after a recreational marijuana bill filed last year by former state Rep. Cluster Howard, although his bill dedicated more of the revenue to the Teachers’ Retirement System.
Roberts admits the bill faces an uphill battle with Republicans, who hold majorities in the House and Senate.
More Republicans support medical marijuana. A bill passed out of the House last year but stalled in the Senate as the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Opponents argue legalization could lead to more problems with drug addiction, but Roberts says those fears are unfounded.
“This is a medicine. This is something that has been shown to actually lower rates of opioid addiction in the states where it has been legalized, so I think this is a viable product that we are missing out on the tax revenue for,” Roberts said.
The bill was filed last week and has not been scheduled for a committee vote.