Cannabis supporters push for medical marijuana
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ As Kentucky embraces marijuana's less potent cousin, hemp, cannabis supporters hope to use that momentum to push lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana.
State lawmakers on Wednesday held their second public hearing this year on the subject, taking testimony from a quadriplegic who said marijuana eases his pain and treats his glaucoma. And lawmakers are planning at least two more public hearings this summer, including one before the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection committee that will focus on marijuana's effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder with soldiers.
The hearings come as Kentucky officials on all levels have come to slowly embrace the cannabis plant. Farmers in western Kentucky will harvest their first hemp crop in decades this fall after a 2013 state law legalized it in Kentucky and the 2014 farm bill cleared the last federal obstacle with the help of Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.
And doctors at the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville are using oil from hemp to develop treatments for seizures in children after state lawmakers legalized cannabidiol earlier this year.
It isn't just medical research that is fueling this resurgence, but the economic opportunity for a state still reeling from declines in the tobacco and coal industries.
``It's way past time for people to stop being afraid of this plant,'' said Katie Moyer, a member of the Kentucky Hemp Commission who is working with western Kentucky farmers on their hemp crops. ``People just have to stop thinking of it as a danger and start looking at it like a tree.''
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