Sen. Westerfield Shifts to Support Nemes Marijuana Bill

Legislation that narrowly allows the use of medical marijuana for a limited number of qualifying conditions now has the support of one of its biggest opponents, the Kentucky Senate Judiciary Chairman.

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, announced his support for House Bill 136 before the bill is expected to go before a House committee.

Westerfield has continued concerns about youth access to marijuana, and about ignoring federal laws that still classify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, but he sees the positives in allowing its use to some in the state.

“I’ve heard too many stories in my district, and out, from those long suffering, and their loved ones left behind, that marijuana brought comfort and relief when nothing else worked,” Westerfield wrote in a statement of his support. “I imagine what sons have done to obtain marijuana for their dying mothers, or what parents have done for a child with a severe seizure disorder.

“I believe HB136 creates a place for the market to function, as it now has in 37 other states while making access safely regulated for those who need it,” he continued.

Nemes has long pushed for a bill that would allow some version of medical marijuana in Kentucky. The 2022 version of the bill limits the forms of the plant and how it could be consumed. HB 136 is aimed at swaying conservatives in the legislature by not allowing the plant to be smoked, and not allowing Kentuckians from growing marijuana.

The legislation also defines those qualifying conditions as any type of cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea. The bill already has an amendment tacked on which would add post-traumatic stress disorder as another qualifying condition to be prescribed marijuana.

Nemes, R-Louisville, pushed a version of the medical marijuana bill through the full House of Representatives two years ago, but that legislation was never heard in the Senate. With Westerfield supporting the legislation that could change this year.