How Does Recreational Cannabis Legalization Impact the Future of Medical Cannabis?
by Chane Leigh
Kentucky might be famous for more than just bluegrass soon. In fact, it might soon be famous for its green grass, that is to say, cannabis. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has high hopes for the upcoming legislative session in the state of Kentucky. Governor Beshear believes that the cannabis plant is the future, and supports cannabis legalization efforts both medically and recreationally. He is energized by the prospect of legalizing interstate cannabis sales as a way to benefit farmers in his state.
Governor Beshear expressed his support and prioritized medical cannabis legalization in the coming legislative session. The Governor’s support for cannabis legalization didn’t stop there. Governor Beshear went on to express support for allowing adults 21 and up to possess and grow cannabis without a medical reason.
Governor Beshear was quoted telling media sources, “This is the future. It’s where things are going. It’s time we join so many other states in doing the right thing.” At a State of the Commonwealth address that took place in January of 2021, Governor Beshear called on lawmakers to pass cannabis policy reform, saying that, “it is past time” to legalize cannabis and that the plant itself, “can provide some relief for folks that would otherwise turn to more damaging substances.”
Just when you think that lawmakers in America aren’t educated on the benefits that legalization can have on communities, individuals like Governor Andy Beshear helps bring reassurance that there is hope for American politicians. Gov. Beshear also expressed that Kentucky was in a unique position and situated to benefit from policy change and positive cannabis reform, telling media sources, “Kentucky and our topography, our farmers could benefit significantly from legalization of medicinal marijuana and then allowing them to grow medical marijuana for other states.”
Governor Beshear is not talking about hemp, which is a type of cannabis that contains little to no THC. It is legal to sell hemp across state lines, as described in the 2018 Farm Bill. He is open to interstate cannabis sales which could bring tremendous benefits to farmers, industry, and consumers in Kentucky. Apart from economic benefits, the environmental impacts of requiring a state to keep all cannabis production, sales, and processing within its borders alone are absurd.
States such as Vermont and Massachusetts that have colder climates and harsh winters cannot produce cannabis outdoors. The majority of their grows are done indoors, putting a strain on electricity and other resources. In comparison, outdoor cultivation can be done nearly year-round in certain areas of California. It would make sense to grow cannabis in California to sell in other places, the same way other commodities of produce are sold.
Another politician in support of interstate sales of cannabis is Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who signed a bill in 2019 that would allow Oregon to participate in the import and export of cannabis from other states once the federal government ended marijuana prohibition. Governor Brown like Governor Beshear recognizes the economic and environmental benefits benefits of opening up interstate sales of cannabis.
More than just cannabis legalization, Governor Andy Beshear is also talking about ending the draconian practice of incarcerating people for cannabis possession. The Governor showed his support for this issue by speaking up in favor of legislation that was introduced by Rep. Nima Kulkarni.
This piece of legislation would effectively prevent people from being incarcerated because of cannabis possession. Although, Kentucky does not have any concrete plans to legalize recreational cannabis in the near future, politicians like Governor Beshear continue to espouse the benefits it could bring to farmers, communities, and the state at large.
Allowing for interstate cannabis sales could offer tremendous opportunities to states such as Kentucky that are ideally situated climate-wise to cultivate cannabis. Cannabis can be extremely therapeutic and have a wide array of potential medical benefits when it is cultivated properly.
Beyond cultivation, the drying and curing process must also be done with attention to detail. From seed to sale, when cannabis is done right, it shows. Sadly, cannabis that is cultivated and held to a high-quality standard, such as medicine should be, is very expensive. Many people miss out on potentially life saving medicine because of accessibility issues related to cost or legality.
Kentucky, along with the rest of America, deserves legal access to cannabis. It’s high time for a change, and the bluegrass state may just end up being a little bit greener in the not-too-distant future. Residents in the state of Kentucky have expressed support for legal access to cannabis, with 9 out of 10 residents favoring medical cannabis legalization.
60% of Kentucky residents believe cannabis should be legal under any circumstance. People are growing tired of false promises and the continued incarceration of individuals over cannabis-related charges. Especially those that live in what is referred to as prohibition states. Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, and a handful of other states are unfortunately stuck in the past regarding access to cannabis.
Politicians often do not represent the changing attitudes of their constituents toward cannabis. However, slowly but surely, things are beginning to change, thanks to the dedication of politicians like Governor Beshear. These politicians recognize the economic, environmental, and social advantages of cannabis policy reform.
No matter what, it is great to see the laws surrounding this miraculous plant being reformed. It is also phenomenal to see that politicians aren’t just stepping out in support of reform, but also opening the discussion regarding vital aspects such as interstate commerce in the cannabis industry.
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