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Kentucky Lawmakers Concerned Over Governor’s Talk of Executive Action on Medical Cannabis

Kentucky Republican legislators want Governor. Andy Beshear needs to stifle recent suggestions that he may legalize medical cannabis through executive action.

The Bluegrass State treatment has been denied authorization by the legislature in recent weeks. This led the first term Democrat of the Bluegrass State to declare that he will explore the options available to him to make sure the legislation is passed.

But members of Kentucky’s GOP-dominated legislature are saying: “Not so fast!”

In a sternly worded statement last week,Robert Stivers, Kentucky’s state Senate president, warned Beshear that this would violate the Constitution.

“The public should be concerned with a governor who thinks he can change statute by executive order,” Stivers said. “He simply can’t legalize medical marijuana by executive order; you can’t supersede a statute by executive order because it’s a Constitutional separation of powers violation.”

Other lawmakers accused the Democratic governor of “giving Kentuckians false hope,” according to local television station WDRB.

“I thought something was coming, to the extent that it’s an effort to bring more information to the subject, to use the Governor’s bully pulpit to push the issue forward, I’m fully supportive,” said GOP state House Rep. Jason Nemes, as quoted by WDRB. “I appreciate the Governor’s sentiment on this, I agree with him 100%.”

“I want to have words of caution there. Many advocates have contacted me to ask if it is possible. They have faith. They just want to be and feel better,” Nemes continued. “The answer is ‘no’ the Governor does not have the authority to legalize medicinal cannabis in Kentucky. I wish he did. If he did, I would be heralding it from the rooftops because this is something I believe Kentuckians need.”

Nemes was the sponsor for a Kentucky medical cannabis bill, which passed in the Kentucky House in March.

“I’ll never forget this mother leaning forward and touching my hand. She told me what it meant to her child, and they all went around the room and said what it meant to them,” Nemes said while promoting the bill during the legislative session. “And I thought, here’s good people, real good people, and I disagree with them. Then, it started to bother me. I talked to physicians, did a lot of research on the issue.”

But the bill’s prospects have never been exactly bright, with Stivers saying it lacked support in his chamber.

Beshear was asked earlier in this month by reporters if executive actions could be used to make the bill appear dead.

“We’re going to explore that,” Beshear said at the time. “It’s something that we will look at. Its time has certainly come.”

Beshear escalated these threats last week.

“If they are not going to take action—not even give it a committee hearing in the Senate—then I believe it’s my obligation to see what’s possible given the will of the people and their desire to move forward on this,” he said. “It’s time to certainly move the conversation forward.”

Nemes however has urged patience when it comes to the legalization of medical marijuana in that country.

“This is not something that is going to happen in the next week or month,” Nemes said, as quoted by WDRB. “This has to be a statutory change, and the only way to change a statue is unfortunately through the legislature.”

“It feels like momentum is strongly on our side, that’s because the people of Kentucky have decided, they have looked at this issue and they are for it,” Nemes added, according to the station.