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Kentucky Senate passes bill to legalize medical marijuana

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate voted Thursday to legalize medical marijuana in the state, delivering a breakthrough endorsement after years of resisting cannabis access for people suffering from a series of debilitating illnesses.

The measure was passed by the Senate on a 26-11 vote, sending it the House, which has supported medical cannabis measures in the past. Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers.

The dramatic vote came before lawmakers started an extended break to give Gov. Andy Beshear time to consider signing or vetoing the stacks of bills sent to him. The House can take up the medical marijuana proposal in late March, when lawmakers will reconvene for the final two days of this year’s session.

The measure — Senate Bill 47 — heading to the House would legalize and regulate medical marijuana.

Under the measure, medical cannabis could be prescribed for a specific list of conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic nausea and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A person would have to be approved for a card allowing its use. A patient under 18 couldn’t possess or acquire medical cannabis without assistance from a designated caregiver.

Most notably, the bill wouldn’t take effect until the start of 2025, to allow state health officials time to craft regulations to oversee the program.

Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press