PIKEVILLE – Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana met at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Pikeville to discuss the support of the use of medical marijuana being approved in Kentucky.
Over 80 individuals packed the conference room to listen to supporters such as Jaime Montalvo, Eric Crawford and Dan Seum Jr. discuss the use of medical marijuana in Kentucky. Currently one bill regarding cannabis has been filed in Frankfort in support of legalizing the use of cannabis for medical and responsible use of Marijuana. Senator Perry Clark on January 6 introduced Senate Bill SB13 also known as the Cannabis Freedom Act to the Kentucky State Senate.
Jamie Montalvo was a medical student on the road to success when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Montalvo, a father of a young son did not want to be a slave to pain pills everyday to combat the pain of MS. A friend suggested he try marijuana, and what he discovered was that it actually took the edge off the pain without the many side effects of the opioid medication he was taking. Montalvo did not want to go to a marijuana dealer’s house to get the herb, so he began to grow a couple plants in a basement closet. When a local bank was robbed, police and canine units began searching Montalvo’s neighborhood, where they discovered the plants. He was arrested and charged and to his horror, his child was taken by social services. An honor student studying to be a doctor, suffering from a debilitating disease was now viewed as a criminal.
Montalvo has partnered with Dan Deum Jr. to form the non-profit organization Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana and reduce the stigma attached to it.
United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy discussed the research and data being done on cannabis with the CBS This Morning Show.
“We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful. I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking,” said Dr. Murthy.
According to the National Cancer Institute, reports suggest cannabis may protect against the development of certain types of tumors. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells while protecting healthy cells from death. In some reports, cannabis has been known to treat the following types of cancers: liver, breast, uterine, pituitary, testicular, pancreatic, lung, brain, and colon.
David Fisher of Letcher County is a retired veteran. Fisher recently moved back to his hometown of Letcher County, Kentucky.
“I believe cannabis saved my life. I was in such pain and suffering and was on over 18 different medications. I was on high doses of opioids and when I got approved to use medical marijuana, I literally traded in 18 different medications for cannabis. My quality of life has improved tremendously. I do not get nauseated like I did from the opioids. What I can’t understand is why the VA will not pay for my medical marijuana when it is not nearly as addictive or have as many side effects as the opioid drugs they are willing to pay for,” said Fisher.
The group discussed the health benefits of cannabis for patients suffering from various ailments and pain, but they also discussed Eastern Kentucky’s growing drug problem.
According to the CDC, Center for Disease Control, Kentucky is the third in the nation for overdose deaths.
Research by the Journal of American Medical Association has discovered a 24.8 percent reduction in opioid overdoses in states with medical marijuana legislation.
If in the future medical marijuana gains legislative support, patients would be required to have a prescription from a doctor for legal use. There is no such thing as a safer drug only a safer choice.
The organization discussed the medical use and benefits of cannabis, but in a state where we are suffering from job loss and economic decline, the approval of such a bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana could also have a use impact on our economy.
According to Ky4MM, if cannabis legislation is approved, it will provide economic growth of a brand new cannabis industry that until now was black market. The development of 5 compassion centers and cultivation facilities 2 years after implementation. After 3 years should be applying for 1 license per 100,000 citizens throughout Kentucky with enough cultivation facilities to provide sufficient supply. What does this mean exactly? States and local government can also profit from license, fees and taxes in a time when local governments are struggling with budget restraints from reduced coal severance and mineral tax. Jobs will be created.
Over $1 billion in sales, Colorado has collected over $110 million in taxes, 80% drop in marijuana criminal charges, and unemployment down to 3.6%. This may be a new industry that could employee future generations of Kentuckians. Be informed and make an educated decision about your views on this issue. Ky4mm ask citizens who support the cause to contact their local representatives and legislators and simply tell them you support the legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky.
“The stigma of the word marijuana or cannabis is a big factor in getting the bill out of the senate. Citizens who support this movement need to contact their local representative,” said Montalvo.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for the Floyd County Times. She can be reached at 606-794-0290.