By Brad Bowman, Published: December 12, 2015 3:56PM
Democrat Sen. Perry Clark of Louisville has advocated for the legalization of medical marijuana since the last legislative session to this summer at Mensa’s Annual Gathering where he cleared the smoke and myths surrounding marijuana. Friday he filed a bill rolling medical and recreational use in one big hit.
Clark filed the “Cannabis Freedom Act” which would regulate the use of cannabis just as the state regulates alcohol.
Touting the benefit of pot over pills and curbing opioid addiction for patients who use marijuana to overcome pain and problems from illness like multiple sclerosis, Clark has talked extensively in the Senate and legislative committees about the benefits and regulation of marijuana.
After the Mensa event this summer, Clark had told The State Journal he wanted to have a meaningful conversation about the senseless prohibition of the plant, which Clark said, has been financially backed by alcohol and tobacco companies blocking the legislation in other states.
The “Cannabis Freedom Act” would end the prohibition on marijuana cultivation, possession and selling the substance in regulatory framework similar to Colorado.
Quick takeaways on the act include: it would only be available to residents 21 and over;
• residents could possess up to 1 ounce on their person;
•cultivate up to 5 plants;
• store an excess of cultivated cannabis for personal use where it was cultivated or transfer 1 ounce to another person 21 or older without remuneration.
• persons under 21 could possess cannabis if it was recommended by a licensed physician;
• no smoking cannabis in public places
Other parts of the regulator framework would include only residents 21 and over could enter a retail facility for the purchase of cannabis or related products.
Clark’s bill would maximize unlawful possession at $250 and a $500 fine for illegal growing marijuana on a property without the property owner’s permission.
“It is abundantly clear to me that cannabis, while being much less harmful, should be treated the same as alcohol,” Clark said in a release. “The Cannabis Freedom Act is an outline on how to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older in Kentucky. It is time for this discussion in our Commonwealth.”
The act’s regulatory framework has a three-tier licensing system which separates cannabis cultivators, processors and retailers independently to “prevent monopolization and vertical integration,” a component different from the framework proposed in Ohio.
Clark said the tax revenues would be in a restricted fund to increase SEEK funding for the state’s public schools and provide scholarships to Kentucky students who qualify for needs-based assistance to both public and post-secondary schools in Kentucky.
Revenues would also help fund evidence-based substance abuse treatment programs, provide grants to local law enforcement agencies to purchase protective equipment and provide additional revenue to the state’s general fund.
During the 30-day short session, Clark brought up the medicinal studies and medical benefits of cannabis almost every day in the Senate.
Follow political reporter Brad Bowman at @bradleybowman for all state government and political news.