Kentucky Governor Beshear Gives the Go-Ahead for Cannabis Research Center


It seems that Kentucky just took a small but important step on its own journey in supporting the cannabis industry in the state.

The most recent move came in the form of a cannabis research center. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear signed new legislation that authorizes this new research center at the University of Kentucky.

It is not surprising that Governor Beshear was willing to sign the legislation to create the research center. It may have been surprising to some that he had the opportunity to sign it.

The Kentucky Legislature approved the legislation for the cannabis research center on the last day of its session earlier in April. It was even supported by some lawmakers who have been opposed to legalizing medical cannabis use in the state.

Signed But Not Without Some Changes

Beshear did sign the legislation but he also used his executive authority to make some changes. The governor is able to line-item veto things that he does not agree with. In this case, he made some changes in order to allow more flexibility in picking leaders for the oversight board and well as to allow the expansion of the research center’s responsibilities.

In the original legislation language, University of Kentucky officials would have been permitted to be part of the board members along with medical specialists. Governor Beshear removed that language from the legislation before signing it. 

There was also language in the legislation that restricted the cannabis research center’s work scope and also its access to state funding. The governor also removed these restrictions before signing the new legislation.

“I am vetoing these parts because they limit the purpose of the center and dictate who the president of the University of Kentucky should consider appointing to the advisory board after giving the president of the university sole appointing power,” Beshear said in his veto message, according to AP.

Normally the state legislature would review the changes made by the governor and either approve or disapprove of them to try to come to an agreement. In this case, the state legislature is not in session and they won’t even be reconvening for the regular session until January of 2023. That means that the changes that the governor made will be the law of the land until the state legislature actually does review them.

Medical Cannabis in Kentucky

Up to this point, medical cannabis legalization has stalled in Kentucky. In March of this year, a new medical cannabis bill that would have legalized medical marijuana was brought before the legislature. The measure was able to pass through the Kentucky House but it was shut down in the Senate.

Governor Beshear is in favor of legalizing medical cannabis use in the state. Since the measure was rejected by the state senate earlier this year there are reports that he is having his legal team look into ways that he could legalize medical marijuana through executive action.

The governor is also seeking input from the public on the medical cannabis issue. He has put together an advisory board that is trying to understand where the public stands on the issue. The report from the advisory board on medical cannabis is expected to be ready sometime within the coming months.



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