Kentucky lawmaker introduces long-shot marijuana legalization bill

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A Kentucky state lawmaker has introduced an adult-use marijuana legalization proposal, but the bill faces long odds to become law.

State Rep. Rachel Roberts was received with applause when she unveiled House Bill 420, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

The bill would set up a state regulatory authority to oversee licensed marijuana cultivation and sales in a fashion similar to other states.

State excise taxes would be set at an initial rate of 9%.

Kentucky legalized medical marijuana last year, but the program signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear won’t take effect until 2025.

The General Assembly is scheduled to debate details about the medical marijuana program this spring.

Medical marijuana legalization was a “giant step forward,” Roberts told Cincinnati TV station WPCO, but Kentucky is lagging behind other states with legal marijuana.

“Make no mistake,” she told the TV station. “People in Kentucky currently are using cannabis. They’re growing cannabis. They’re selling cannabis.

“It’s just not regulated for consumer safety or tax for the benefit of the general populace.”

Regulated cannabis is available in bordering Illinois and Missouri, which have adult-use and medical programs, respectively.

Both Ohio and Virginia also have legalized marijuana, although no legal adult-use stores have opened in those states.

Roberts’ HB 420 “is unlikely to gain traction” in Kentucky’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the Courier Journal predicted.

As of Friday, the bill had six co-sponsors, according to a state bill tracker.