Kentucky Nurses Association Endorses Medical Marijuana

The Kentucky Nurses Association has come out in support of medical marijuana, claiming medical evidence demonstrates therapeutic efficacy.

The Kentucky Nurses Association has publicly voiced their support for medical marijuana in Kentucky, WDRB reports. The association made the announcement at a press conference prior to the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations’ public hearing to consider medical marijuana testimonies.

“I hope that folks are going to see that when registered nurses say this is an important access to care issue, that folks are going to look at it as the medical and patient care issue that it is and not as a social issue,” said Maureen Keenan, executive director of the Kentucky Nurses Association.

The “full-service professional organization for the state’s entire nurse population” also released a statement in support for medical cannabis legislation, writing:

“As the voice of a profession driven by evidence based practice, best practices and research and data, the KNA has examined the evidence related to medical cannabis. The data overwhelmingly indicates a profound potential to improve patient outcomes, reduce pain and suffering, and alleviate the burden of often overwhelming medication regimens. Moreover, there is growing evidence to indicate that medical cannabis could be used as a safer alternative to prescription opioid drugs and it presents a possible mechanism to reduce Kentucky’s opiate addiction problem. Additionally, data concerning side effects and negative outcomes related to use of medical cannabis showed little to no risk.”

Kentucky lawmakers did consider medical marijuana legislation in 2016. Rep. Denver Butler and Senators Perry B. Clark, Denise Harper Angel, and Reginald Thomas introduced bills that would establish a comprehensive medical cannabis system. Both bills died after the legislature adjourned for the season without taking any action.

The Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations hearing, however, suggests that the state legislature will once again consider medical marijuana during the 2017 session. Included on the agenda for the hearing were presentations from medical marijuana advocates and the scientific community. Dr. Gregory Barnes from the University of Louisville Medical School spoke about the research showing the therapeutic efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) for treating epileptic seizures in children.

The meeting was presided over by Republican state Senator John Schickel, chair of the state Senate Standing Committee on Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations.

“We had a lot of interest in it last session, so I decided as chairman of the committee to go ahead and have an extensive hearing during the interim, when we could give the topic the time it deserves,” Schickel said. “The legislators want to hear about that so they can make up their minds about what the best thing to do is.”

“I know in northern Kentucky, people are saying who are we to be telling people who think they can benefit from this for having cancer treatments, and hospice care, who are we to tell them, no, you can’t do this,” Schickel said. “I think there’s a pretty strong feeling that that’s not the role of government, that if people want to do that in that stage of their life, that should be decision between them and their doctor.”

Kentucky did pass a medical CBD bill in 2014. The law excludes CBD oil from the definition of marijuana and allows patients with intractable epilepsy and a doctor’s recommendation to legally possess the oil. However, patients are unable to get access, as no dispensaries have been opened and it’s illegal for patients to cultivate their own cannabis or carry cannabis products in across state lines.