Sen. Perry Clark talks at Mensa event at Galt House in Louisville
By Brad Bowman, Published: July 3, 2015 8:09AM
Democratic Sen. Perry Clark spoke at the Mensa Annual Gathering in Louisville on Wednesday in an effort to clear the smoke about myths surrounding cannabis.
Clark was one of several presenters invited to the four-day Mensa event at the Galt House.
The organization asked Clark to speak about the myths beginning in the early 1900s surrounding cannabis, hemp and the continued propaganda from opponents of cannabis legislation.
With the 2016 legislative session less than six months away, Clark said he hopes to have meaningful conversations about legalizing cannabis with fellow lawmakers where baseless propaganda has kept a stigma on the plant and hindered support for his past bills.
“We don’t understand why it has been criminalized under a mountain of lies for the last 90 years,” Clark said. “We do know that alcohol and tobacco companies have funded the opposition to cannabis legislation in other states. We talked about the roots of the opposition from the early 1930s and ’40s.”
Clark said the discussion on his topic among Mensa members, a nonprofit organization open to people who score in the 98th percentile on an IQ test, brought out similar concerns he had with legalizing cannabis or medical marijuana.
“We all agreed we were concerned about teen use and kids getting their hands on edibles (cannabis products marketed like popular candy brands in states where recreational marijuana is legal),” Clark said.
“But it’s time to drop the fear surrounding this plant. We’ve spent billions of dollars over the years fighting it in the War on Drugs and really there is no moral justification.”
Hill to climb
The hill cannabis legislation has had to climb in Kentucky, Clark said, includes the continued opposition from critics who have said there are no medical studies proving the medical benefits of cannabis.
“The cover story on National Geographic this month shows there are several government studies on marijuana,” Clark said. “The big change (for Kentucky and other states) will come in 2016 when the U.N. votes on its drug policies. The worst thing that can happen to someone who uses marijuana is they get arrested and it ruins their life. Where has all the War on Drugs money gone?”
Clark has long been an advocate for medicinal marijuana and has updated bills for the last four years mirroring states where medicinal and medical marijuana have become law.
During the 2015 legislative session, Clark almost daily brought up topics relating to the benefits of medical marijuana to fellow senators including a study showing a reduction in opiate addiction where medical marijuana had been legalized.
Clark’s Senate Bill 40 contained provisions for the cultivation and dispensing of cannabis to patients in the commonwealth.
Currently, in Colorado where medicinal and recreational marijuana have been legalized the state government has brought in $96 million in tax revenue.
According to information from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, the state has three taxes on recreational marijuana and one on medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana has a 2.9 percent sales tax. Recreational marijuana has a 15 percent excise tax when it is transported from a cultivation site to a processing site or retail location. An additional 10 percent special sales tax on recreational marijuana is added to an existing 2.9 percent sales tax.
A spokesperson from the governor’s office said the state uses the 15 percent excise tax to pay for the construction of public schools and since those taxations have been put in place has collected $40 million.