A new year brings a new effort to pass medical cannabis legislation in Kentucky. The path is often hard, but the momentum has built year after year and many think this is the year that substantial progress will be made on medical marijuana in the Bluegrass State.

Legislation filed recently could provide the access that so many in the state desperately need. “There are 40,000 – 60,000 Kentuckians who have little to no relief provided by traditional medicine for symptoms of debilitating illnesses,” Diane St. Onge, a Kentucky State Representative (R-Ft. Wright) and one of the sponsors of medical marijuana in Frankfort, told The Marijuana Times. “Their quality of life is severely compromised. Often they take upwards of 30 pills a day which interact with each other rendering the patients unable to drive, to work, to function in anything other than a highly compromised world.”

For Diane, the time for medical legalization has come. “Medicinal marijuana has been legalized in 33 states. It is time for legislators to do the will of 82% of Kentuckians – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike – and offer an alternative remedy to the pain these Kentuckians face day in and day out. HB 136 provides for a highly structured, regulated and licensed framework, within which those qualified individuals in a bonafide doctor/patient relationship, can become eligible for a medical marijuana card.”

Allowing people access to the medicine of their choice doesn’t seem like a battle that should be necessary. Those who oppose medical cannabis will tell you that they are simply looking out for patients and that they are protecting them from themselves. But who has more right to decide what you ingest than you do?

More than anything else, the fear and stigma that surrounds marijuana needs to be overcome in states like Kentucky. What else would account for the hesitancy on the part of many lawmakers when it comes to advancing medical cannabis reform measures? Every year patients from all over the state descend on Frankfort and plead their case, and every year they are denied relief.

Who is harmed if a doctor recommends that a patient use cannabis? I can certainly show you who is harmed if a doctor is not allowed to make that recommendation.

Rep. St. Onge told us she believes that HB 136 would pass if it made it to a vote on the House floor. “There is also some support for medical marijuana in the Senate and as we allay fears with references as to how these have been addressed by this bill, we gain more support daily,” she said.

Hopefully 2020 will be the year the legislature gathers to improve the medical marijuana bill passed this year. Patients cannot wait any longer, and there is really no good reason to make them do so.