Senator proposes bill to legalize marijuana

Perry Clark

Recreational marijuana use would be legal in Kentucky in 2016 if proposed legislation becomes law. 

State Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, is sponsoring a bill called the Cannabis Freedom Act. The bill proposes to legalize recreational marijuana use for those 21 years or older, decriminalize offenses such as unauthorized growing and distribution and consuming cannabis in public and place an excise tax on the drug.   

“Originally what inspired me was a group of retired Teamsters,” Clark said. The Teamsters knew that using marijuana was a cheaper alternative to costly prescription painkillers they needed, he said. “They didn’t want to be criminalized for something that shouldn’t have been criminalized in the first place,” he said. 

Clark’s bill is heavily based on Colorado Amendment 64, which legalized cannabis there in 2012, he said. The proposal was put on a statewide ballot by popular initiative and was approved by 55.32 percent of the total vote. During the 2014-15 fiscal year, the state raised $100 million in taxes on adult recreational marijuana sales. In addition, marijuana arrests and citations have gone down roughly 80 percent and the state’s tourism has increased by 10 percent, Clark said. 

“Since they legalized the cannabis, everything’s gotten better,” he said. 

The bill calls for all funds raised from taxes on cannabis sales to go to a new program called Kentucky Responsible Cannabis Use, which would distribute the funds to the Department of Education, the Office of Drug Control Policy, the Law Enforcement Council and the General Fund, Clark said. 

“There are revenue needs in this state and no one’s going to raise the tax,” he said. 

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will enforce the new cannabis laws, according to the proposed legislation. That should be an easy adjustment, according to Clark, because cannabis will be controlled similarly to alcohol.    

Throughout the 20th century, cannabis was unfairly demonized, Clark said. 

“There are 90 years of lies and distortions that say that cannabis is an evil plant,” he said. Even if the bill doesn’t pass, Clark said he aims to get people thinking more about the benefits of legalized marijuana.

“My bill is a bill to start an adult discussion on cannabis,” Clark said. 

Warren County Drug Task Force Director Tommy Loving said he is opposed to the bill, arguing that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads users to abuse other drugs. 

“I have yet to hear a recovering addict who didn’t start with marijuana,” he said. 

Cannabis legalization has resulted in a few problems for Colorado, he said, citing a study from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

The 2015 study, based on 2014 data, showed a rise in marijuana-related emergency room visits and marijuana-related disciplinary problems in public schools since legalization.   

According to Rocky Mountain HIDTA’s study, the number of hospital visits per 100,000 that were marijuana-related rose from 147.8 in 2011 to 248.32 in 2013.

Data from the Colorado Department of Education said the state’s public schools saw 3,736 drug-related suspensions in the 2008-09 school year. That number rose to 5,249 in the 2013-14 school year. 

Legalizing marijuana sends children a message that nothing’s wrong with marijuana, Loving said. 

“I don’t know what they’ve done over there (Colorado) other than expose people to another drug,” Loving said. 

Clark proposed this bill last year, but it failed to gain any traction, Loving said, adding that many in the legislature are still opposed to it.

“We don’t anticipate it going anywhere this time, either,” he said.

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(6) comments


#votepoet its time to stop begging politicians to do the job we elect them to do ( i.e. act for the benefit and well being of the ppl instead of corps and their own wallets ) and simply replace them with real americans in possession of their integrity


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Brian Kelly

The "War on Marijuana" has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful "War on Drugs" that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending "War on Marijuana", lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It's a no brainer.

The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

Even The President of the United States has used marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in prison today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let's end this hypocrisy now!

The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana "crimes" because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

Brian Kelly

There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what's left for a marijuana prohibitionist to do?

Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide!...and Support All Marijuana Legalization Efforts!

Brian Kelly

Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called "Addiction Specialists" who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, - Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don't have one.

The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

Legalize Nationwide!

Brian Kelly

The "Gateway Myth" has been proven false over and over again. Correlation doesn't equal causation.

If you really want to protect families from a drug proven to destroy lives and families, then you should be up in arms, protesting the legality of booze. Alcohol is the drug that causes the most traffic fatalities and domestic violence by a huge landslide.
More so than all other drugs, combined.

Why doesn't that concern you even more?

"Marijuana Is Gateway Drug" Theory Debunked, Again

Marijuana a "Gateway" Drug? Scientists Call Theory Half-Baked

Marijuana as a Gateway Drug: The Myth That Will Not Die

Seven Studies That Debunk the Gateway Myth

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