Senator Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, filed a bill that is attempting to get clinical trials set up to study the medicinal benefits of medical marijuana. Senate Bill 236, would commandeer funding for clinical trials. The bill pulls funds from Kentucky Access, which is a health insurance program for high-risk patients that is winding down because of the new health benefit exchange being in place. If the bill is successful clinical health trials could begin in March 31, 2015.
If the bill is successful the funds allocated would be around $28 million. Half of the amount would go to medicinal marijuana trials at the University of Louisville. The University of Kentucky, the state’s other public medical research institution, and U of L would apply to a nine-member governing board for the remaining funds, which could be boosted from appropriations by the Legislature, grants and interest generated in the fund account, according to the bill.
Senate Bill 124, which cleared the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Feb. 26, would also make the substance available to those participating in studies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, with the federal government relaxing its stance against the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, it is questionable exactly what the federal government’s stance on medical marijuana trials in Kentucky would be. House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has operated with a “hands-off attitude” thus far, and Stivers said the matter could be settled with an executive order from the president. Stumbo said further, “I’m sure there’d need to be some clarification, but if they’re not going to punish people for possession, they damn sure ought to not punish people for research on it.”