Lawmaker pushes law to decriminalize cannabis use and possession


A Kentucky state official on Monday announced the prior tabling of legislation that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis and also offer voters a chance to protect the provisions constitutionally.

Representative Nima Kulkarni (D-Louisville) announced Monday that several organizations have approved her plan.

“I sponsor these bills for several reasons, each of which should be enough to make them law,” Kulkarni said. “First, current cannabis laws have needlessly and tragically ruined many lives, especially people of color who have suffered from uneven enforcement. Second, thousands of citizens, from cancer patients to veterans with PTSD, should be allowed to use something that gives them the mental and physical relief they deserve without resorting to more potent and potentially powerful drugs. addictive. Third, decriminalizing cannabis would give the state a much-needed reliable source of revenue without raising current taxes by a single dime.

“And, finally, polls have repeatedly shown that a majority of Kentuckians support the decriminalization and responsible use of cannabis by adults. Other states taking this step are reaping tremendous benefits, and it it’s time for Kentucky to join them. “

A proposed constitutional amendment would be presented to voters next November if approved by three-fifths of the House and Senate during the next legislative session in 2022 in Frankfurt. It would allow Kentuckians aged 21 and over to own, use, buy or sell up to one ounce of cannabis without criminal sanction, including having up to five plants for their personal use. The General Assembly would be responsible for regulating how cannabis is grown, taxed and sold.

His second bill would call on the legislature itself to remove the criminal penalties for possession, cultivation and / or sale of small amounts of cannabis while maintaining the penalties for possession of larger amounts. The bill would also remove cannabis accessories from Kentucky’s drug paraphernalia laws.

“My bills complement each other because they give the General Assembly a short-term path to act quickly and a more permanent solution that gives cannabis use the constitutional protection it deserves,” Kulkarni said. “With the support of the public, I think we can do both next year.”

His bills have the backing of various organizations, according to a press release.

The Kentucky ACLU said that “although our organizations have different missions, we are united in the cause of the decriminalization of cannabis. Due to outdated and poorly enforced laws, thousands of Kentuckians have lost time and opportunities due to criminal convictions, and thousands more have suffered needlessly because Kentucky blocks the medicinal use of cannabis. It is high time for the Commonwealth to join the 36 other states that have removed most, if not all, of these barriers, which is why we are proud to add our name to those who support Representative Nima Kulkarni’s legislation.

Patrick Dunegan, director of the Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition, said his organization fully supports Kulkarni’s bills and his “efforts to change the cannabis law here in Kentucky.” It is a question of freedom and society in our state. Representing Kulkarni, we applaud you! We encourage everyone to support these bills.

Mike Conway, State Director for Americans for Prosperity-Kentucky, said, “We applaud Representative Kulkarni for introducing bills that would move Kentucky away from nefarious policies that have criminalized the use and possession of marijuana. Marijuana possession law enforcement has needlessly dragged thousands of Kentuckians into the criminal justice system while diverting law enforcement resources from public safety priorities such as reducing violent crime.

Matthew Bratcher, executive director of the Kentucky state branch for the National Marijuana Law Reform Organization (NORML), said his organization “commends Representative Kulkarni in her efforts to reform the laws on marijuana. possession of cannabis in our Commonwealth, and we encourage other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to join with it in making a difference in the lives of many Kentuckians.

CJ Carter, Kentucky State Director for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, said, “We are on the precipice of opening up the cannabis industry here in Kentucky. It is indeed a dangerous time for blacks and browns. There is a new multi-billion dollar industry soon to be opening up at the federal and state levels while at the same time people who look like me remain criminalized behind bars and are once again excluded from the conversation. We now have the opportunity to write a different story in Kentucky that would benefit us first and foremost. The state of Kentucky and its history regarding cannabis owe a huge debt to the black community and it starts with this legislation which is introduced by Representative Kulkarni.

-Staff report

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