Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday announced the members of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee, a panel created to help him provide access to medical marijuana for patients with chronic pain and other serious medical conditions.
Beshear made the appointments to the advisory committee via an executive order signed on June 14, naming 17 initial members “who have relevant experience in health care, treatment of opioid use disorder and other diseases of addiction, law enforcement, criminal justice and advocacy for medical cannabis,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. Members of the panel will soon travel throughout the state seeking input rom residents on their views about medical cannabis and then report their findings to the governor.
“Polling suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis, while at the same time, far too many in our state who could benefit from it are suffering. It is simply time that something more is done,” said Beshear. “I want to make sure every voice is heard as I am weighing executive action that could provide access to medical cannabis in the commonwealth.”
The governor’s office noted that medical cannabis is often used by patients as an alternative to highly addictive opioids. But while more than three dozen states including Kentucky’s neighbors Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia allow the medical use of cannabis, lawmakers in the Bluegrass State have failed to deliver a bill to Besear’s desk.
In March, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed House Bill 136, a measure that would have legalized the medical use of marijuana for specified medical conditions and created a regulatory framework for commercial cannabis production and sales. But after the state Senate failed to approve the measure, Beshear said that he was considering taking executive action to get medical pot into the hands of patients.
“Its time has come and it can give some ailing Kentuckians relief,” Beshear said at an April news conference.
“Would I have preferred if the legislature had passed it?” Beshear asked. “Yes. But they didn’t.”
“If they are not going to take action — not even give it a committee hearing in the Senate — then I believe it’s my obligation to see what’s possible given the will of the people and their desire to move forward on this,” he said. “It’s time to certainly move the conversation forward.”
Beshear added that he was seeking advice from his general counsel to determine what executive actions he could take without approval from lawmakers.
Advisory Panel Members
Tuesday’s executive order to name the advisory panel formalizes Beshear’s plan to act on medical marijuana legalization independent of the state legislature. Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Kerry Harvey and Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet Ray Perry will serve as co-chairs of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory, according to Beshear’s office. The other members of the panel include:
- Dr. Amber Cann of La Grange, pharmacy coach and adjunct professor at Spalding University;
- Julie Cantwell of Rineyville, advocate with Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana;
- Jennifer Cave of Louisville, member, Stites and Harbison;
- Eric Crawford of Maysville, advocate;
- Cookie Crews of Frankfort, commissioner of the Department of Corrections;
- Dr. John Farmer of Louisville, OB/GYN, medical director of Solid Ground Counseling and Recovery, addiction treatment provider in Louisville, Morehead and Hazard;
- Dr. Jonathan Hatton of Whitesburg, family medicine, Mountain Comprehensive Health;
- Brian Jointer of Jeffersonville, Indiana, certified public health worker in Louisville;
- Dr. Nick Kouns of Lexington, internal medicine, Clark Regional Medical Center;
- Alex Kreit of Cincinnati, Ohio, director of the Chase Center on Addiction Law and Policy at Northern Kentucky University;
- Dr. Linda McClain of Louisville, OB/GYN, Commonwealth Counseling Center;
- Andrew Sparks of Lexington, former assistant U.S. Attorney;
- Dee Dee Taylor of Louisville, chief executive officer, 502 Hemp Wellness Center;
- Julie Wallace of Morganfield, Union County Attorney; and
- Kristin Wilcox of Beaver Dam, co-founder of Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis.
“The committee will come together for the first time in the near future to schedule town hall meetings that will be held throughout the commonwealth,” Besear’s office said in its statement. “Townhall meetings will be open to the public for discussion and feedback from residents, local leaders, health care providers and advocacy groups. Meeting details will be released in advance.”
The governor also announced the launch of a new website where Kentuckians can learn more about the upcoming work of the advisory committee and submit their own feedback to the panel.