By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times
Gov. Andy Beshear, who has endeared himself to many voters as a man of compassion in his handling of disasters, again has placed people ahead of politics with his decision to allow use of medicinal marijuana.
With public opinion polls showing that 90 percent of Kentuckians favor controlled use of the drug by those dealing with chronic pain, the governor simply grew tired of waiting for the Kentucky Senate to pass a medical marijuana law.
The Kentucky House twice passed such a bill in recent legislative sessions, but the Republican-dominated Senate never brought it to a floor vote. If and when passed and signed, such a law would make Kentucky the 38th state to decriminalize pot for a humane purpose.
Beshear issued an executive order last week to legalize its possession and use, under certain circumstances, starting Jan. 1. Republicans in the Senate were outraged, claiming overreach by the executive branch.
In my opinion, their objections more likely were based on fear of losing the votes next year of the families and friends of those suffering with no other relief from pain. Handing such an advantage to an already popular governor surely concerns the dozen individuals who want the GOP nomination to run against Beshear.
The governor said he would gladly rescind the executive order once the new law is in place. Again, showing himself to be a creative problem solver, he based the executive order on the governor’s constitutional authority to issue pardons to wrongdoers.
Frankly, we thought it was an impressive maneuver by a former attorney general who obviously is keeping his lawyer skills at the ready.
Politicians in both parties acknowledge that medical marijuana is popular in the Bluegrass State. Beshear’s exercise of his executive power to protect sick Kentuckians who use cannabis from being prosecuted as criminals certainly looks like a good horse to ride, so to speak.
Finally, the House Republican who twice sponsored the bill to legalize marijuana for medical purposes has accused the governor of an “unprecedented power grab”. Perhaps that’s something you say in politics when you get outsmarted.
(Contact Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.)