Pubdate: Sat, 30 Apr 2016
Source: State Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2016 The State Journal
Author: Thomas Vance


And so another session of the Kentucky Assembly comes to an end 
without passage of a comprehensive cannabis bill. State Senator John 
Schickel assured the 75 percent of our citizens who are supporters of 
cannabis law reform that there would be hearings in the interim and 
something might get done next year. That's interesting because it's 
the same thing they have been told for the last five years!

One wonders, with 23 states and the District of Columbia having 
medical cannabis laws, and four states and D.C. having passed 
recreational cannabis laws, exactly what could possibly be learned 
from hearings in the interim that haven't already been brought 
forward? There have been dozens of hearings right here in Kentucky 
over the last five years. I doubt if our legislators will find 
anything new on this subject.

Why our legislators took no action this year is puzzling given the 
benefits of legalization being realized in other states. The massive 
amount of economic activity, revenue and job creation experienced in 
Colorado will certainly be experienced here should legalization 
occur. Colorado for example garnered 135 million in revenue from 947 
million in sales for 2015. Slightly more than half was from 
recreational sales and the rest from medical sales with 21,000 jobs 
created in the industry. Colorado along with the states with medical 
cannabis laws also experienced a large drop in opioid overdose deaths 
and a nominal drop in suicides.

Statistically here in Kentucky we can expect approximately 280 deaths 
to occur during the next year because of our failure to pass a 
comprehensive bill this year. Having already lost a family member to 
overdose death I can only hope that none of my family members are in 
that 280 for next year.

What could it be that is so terrible about legalizing marijuana that 
we would accept these avoidable deaths with a shrug and a 'maybe next 
year'? Certainly it can't be safety. The Administrative Law Judge for 
the Drug Enforcement Administration, Judge Andrew Young, ruled as far 
back as 1988 that marijuana was, "the safest therapeutic substance 
known to man."  And there is the practical evidence from California 
where the citizens have had a medical marijuana program since 1996, 
20 years, and none of the predicted harms have materialized.

Could it be fear? So far no politician has been punished by the 
voters for passing a marijuana reform bill anywhere.

Sadly maybe it's just arrogance and the inability to admit that what 
they have been told for 79 years about marijuana, information some 
hung their careers on, was a complete lie. They can't accept it even 
when confronted with the evidence, especially when you realize some 
of our legislators are prosecutors and know better.

Whatever the reason, it certainly cannot justify the cavalier 
attitude of our legislators regarding the avoidable deaths they must 
accept to be able to say, "Maybe next year."

MSgt Thomas Vance, USAF Ret.

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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom