RINEYVILLE, Ky. — Following Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order allowing some Kentuckians to use medical marijuana, patients already using it are happy with the decision. 

What You Need To Know

  • The executive order, announced and signed Tuesday afternoon, will take effect Jan. 1, 2023

  • The list of 21 medical conditions includes epilepsy 

  • Gov. Beshear believes this is a stepping stone for broader action by the legislature 

  • Patients will still have to travel out of state to legally purchase cannabis

This includes 22-year-old Preston Cantwell, who has epilepsy. Diagnosed at age four, at his worst he was having close to 200 seizures a day. That was until he tried medicinal marijuana a few years ago. 

“It’s been like a day and night transformation,” Cantwell said. Now seizure-free, Cantwell was able to get his driver’s license this September.

“That would not of been possible in any way, shape or form without medical marijuana,” Cantwell said. 

Epilepsy is one of the 21 medical conditions that cannabis can be used for in Beshear’s executive order.

“I hope that we can provide them this form of relief if they qualify until legislation’s passed, but I would anticipate legislation will provide relief to more individuals than the executive order,” Beshear said Tuesday. 

This decision by the governor comes after a bill to legalize medicinal marijuana died in the Senate during the last legislative session. This summer, a number of town halls were held to gauge interest in legalization from Kentuckians. Their findings released in October found overwhelming support for it. 

One of the people who served on the Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee was Preston’s mom, Julie Cantwell, who is a co-founder of the nonprofit Moms for Medical Cannabis. The organization shares the stories of families who’ve been helped by the drug with lawmakers.

“I appreciate what the governor is trying to do. We still have a lot of work to do with the Kentucky legislature to get Kentucky patients safe access right here at home,” Julie Cantwell said in a statement to Spectrum News 1. “Sick people should not have to travel out of state to get help. It’s past time for Kentucky to become a medical cannabis state.” 

While her son Preston says he is hopeful the legislature will agree with the governor and expand access to medicinal marijuana, he’s doubtful it will come soon. “I try to look at it through their eyes even though it’s kind of hard to considering what it’s done for me,” Cantwell said. 

As someone who’s benefited greatly from using cannabis, this is his message to lawmakers as they prepare to return to Frankfort. “Maybe this could be medicine for some people. Just keep an open mind, that’s all I have to say about it,” Cantwell said. 

Lawmakers will return to the capitol in January, two days after the governor’s executive order goes into effect.