On Wednesday, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee cleared House Bill 136, which legalizes medical marijuana. The committee cleared the bill in favor of a 17-1 vote. Notably, the bill allows doctors to prescribe marijuana for certain medical conditions. A panel consisting of eight doctors, four public advocates, and a pharmacist would determine the medical conditions.
Jason Nemes, a Representative of Louisville, sponsored the bill. He expects the House to clear the bill. He said, “We won the battle in the House committee. It’s almost, pretty much over in the House of Representatives. Now we’ve got to let our senators understand where you are and educate them on the bill.”
Medical marijuana bill could face obstacles in the Senate
The Lexington Herald-Leader article said that advocates tried to legalize medical marijuana for years. So, the bill could help people who suffer from certain medical conditions. An anesthesiologist at the University of Miami, Dr. Jeffery Block, stated that recent evidence suggested that THC effectively treats some medical conditions including nausea or vomiting, epilepsy, and chronic pain.
Notably, marijuana is gaining public support as an alternative for addictive opioid pain pills. Legalization has gained momentum in the House of Representatives. Recently, a survey conducted by The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health indicated that 90% of the respondents favored medical marijuana legalization.
However, the Senate might not favor the bill. A representative of Manchester and the president of the Senate, Robert Stivers wants the federal government to study the issue. He said, “It’s a balancing test of do the goods outweigh the bads. And we just haven’t had anything done on that.”
The bill’s opponents want more research to be conducted to understand marijuana’s benefits. Also, there are concerns that people could drive in inebriate conditions due to a lack of road-side testing equipment.
Opinions on the bill
In the testimony to the committee, many people said that the bill is one of the more restrictive bills in the country. As reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the bill prohibits smoking marijuana even for medical purposes. Also, the bill doesn’t allow colorful packaging. Now, the Cabinet of Health and Family Services has to decide whether to allow the sale of chocolate or cookies containing THC. Federal law prohibits pharmacies from filling prescriptions for medicinal marijuana. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services would have to create regulations, which would allow at least 25 dispensaries throughout the state.
Marijuana sector’s performance
Overall, the marijuana sector has been going through a rough period. Last year, the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE:MJ) lost 31.4% of its stock value. MJ has continued its downward momentum this year. Notably, MJ has fallen by 8.1% YTD as of Wednesday. Higher-than-expected operating losses, pricing pressures, a slower opening of new stores in Canada, and weaker-than-expected demand for Cannabis 2.0 products dragged the sector down. Meanwhile, Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) (TSE:WEED), Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), and Aphria (NYSE:APHA) are also trading lower. Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, and Aphria have lost 4.7%, 31.2%, and 19.9% YTD, respectively.
However, we expect the cannabis sector to rise as more states open up to marijuana. Currently, only 11 states have legalized recreational cannabis, while 33 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.