FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill legalizing medical marijuana for a limited number of conditions cleared the House Thursday.

What You Need To Know

  • The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes

  • The bill only includes a few qualifying conditions and is more limited than most other states

  • All but one Democrat voted for the bill while the GOP majority was split on the measure

  • Medical marijuana heads to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle

“This is truly a bill for people who are just trying to be — and trying to feel — better,” Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville) said.

House Bill 136 allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for a few conditions: cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea, and PTSD. Rep. Rachel Roberts (D-Newport) said it’ll help veterans.  

“We ask them to protect us,” she said. “And now they are asking us to help them.”

All but one Democrat — Rep. Ashley Tackett Laferty (D-Martin) — was on board with the bill.

Rep. Al Gentry (D-Louisville) said he has several friends who have benefited from it.

“I know real people that have had their lives turned around by these products,” he said. “And a lot of them are living in the closet or living in secrecy because they feel like a criminal.”

But the GOP was split, with some arguing that it’ll just lead to full legalization and more problems with drug addiction.

“The common denominator of 99.9% of the drug addiction problem in America started with marijuana,” Rep. Chris Fugate (R-Chavies) said.

Nemes, the bill’s main sponsor, said he’s not for full legalization, but he is for compassionate care of people who are sick.

“If your physician or your wife’s physician or your husband’s physician — or God forbid, your child’s physician — told you that this product works in other states, and it will help your child, what would you do?” he said. “If you would fight for your kid, hit the green button.”

The bill would be one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country, where 37 other states have legalized it in some form. Kentucky's program wouldn't allow patients to smoke marijuana, either; it can only be taken in edible form, vape oil, or 

Medical marijuana now moves to the Senate, where it died in 2020.

Since then, Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) said he supports it, so it is expected to receive at least a committee vote this time around.