Hopes fade in Kentucky for legalizing medical marijuana this year

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Medical marijuana legalization in Kentucky appears dead for the 2022 legislative session.

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer told the Lexington Herald Leader on Thursday that a bill to legalize MMJ is “done for the year” because of lack of support.

“I have said all along I wouldn’t stand in its way if we had the votes, but we do not have the votes in the Senate,” Thayer told the newspaper.

However, he wouldn’t disclose how many votes are lacking, and Senate Majority Whip Mike Wilson declined to comment on the level of GOP support for the measure.

The Republican-controlled House passed the measure, House Bill 136, last week by a resounding 59-34 vote.

Republican Jason Nemes, who sponsored the bill, told the Herald Leader that he still is working on getting senators to support the measure, which he has characterized as intentionally restrictive in order to gain passage.

Among other things, county commissions or courts could decide to prohibit medical marijuana operations.

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The same thing happened in 2020, when the House passed a medical marijuana legalization bill, but the Senate declined to take it up.

Kentucky’s 2022 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 14.