FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) – The Kentucky General Assembly kicks off the 2020 legislative session at noon Tuesday.
Medical marijuana advocates said they’ll be watching closely and reaching out to lawmakers pushing for legalization this year, hoping to build off momentum gained in the last session.
In 2019, a medical marijuana bill did what none had done before in Kentucky. Pro-legalization legislation passed out of a House committee, but with time running out, it was never brought to the floor for a final vote. Therefore, the issue would have to wait and go through the process again in 2020.
Now, a year later, a new governor is in Frankfort who is supportive of the move.
“The time has come for medicinal marijuana. Let’s take that step,” Governor Andy Beshear said. “I believe it can be done in a revenue-positive way where no one is priced out of medication they may need, but it will also help the budget in so many other areas.”
Other nearby states have also moved forward with the legalization of recreational marijuana and Kentucky advocates are asking to build on what they see as progress.
"My veterans need it, actually," Brent Goss, the head of Kentucky Veterans for Medical Marijuana, said. "The citizens of the state deserve to have safe access. We just had Illinois go completely legal. You know, we're looking at a two-hour trip from Louisville."
Goss said he feels the legislation has a better chance this year during the extended budget session. He adds he and others will be in the ear of House Speaker David Osbourne and Senate President Robert Stivers hoping to convince them to take the issue up for a vote.
"They need to understand that they work for us," Goss said. "We give them the privilege of working for us. Now, they need to take that into consideration."
Goss said a bill pre-filed by Representative Jason Nemes that looks the same as what passed committee last year is what he will be fighting for.
For him, it's a battle for something he said has kept him alive.
"I've almost died," Goss said. "I was addicted to opiates. I was addicted to Benzos."
Now, he said there are others' lives in the hands of lawmakers.
Lawmakers will be crafting a budget for the next two years in 2020. The legislative session will end in April.