Kentucky’s Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate has decided to uphold the ban on medical marijuana this week. The judge dismissed a lawsuit that was filed by 3 plaintiffs against Governor Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear for “denying sick people safe medicine.” The 3 plaintiffs, Amy Stalker, Danny Belcher and Dan Seum Jr., suffer from various mental and physical conditions that are known in other states to be treatable with the use of medical marijuana.
The Judge’s Statement
“The court recognizes plaintiffs’ arguments that the cannabis plant has potential uses for medicinal purposes,” Wingate wrote. “The court finds that the (marijuana) laws reasonably relate to the public health and well being of the commonwealth, and the General Assembly acted within the scope of its constitutional discretion in enacting the legislation,” he adds, making it clear that he will not interfere. The Governor’s office was happy with the Judge’s decision, making it clear that they agree that decisions such as these should made through legislation.
“We respect the court’s decision, but we strongly disagree with it,” Canon wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Our clients have said all along that they want the government to stop intruding into the relationship between them and their physicians.”
Why the Plaintiffs Want Medical Marijuana Rights
Amy Stalker was living in Colorado and Washington prior to moving to Kentucky to care for her sick mother. She was able to use medical marijuana to treat her bipolar disorder and irritable bowel syndrome. Since moving, her health has deteriorated without the use of medical marijuana. Danny Belcher said that in the past he has used medical marijuana to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder he developed after the Vietnam War. Dan Seum, Jr. is the son of Republican state Senator Dan Seum. He says he has used medical marijuana to treat the pain from his inoperable spinal condition.
Marijuana vs. Opioids
Doctors attempted to give Seum, Jr. the prescription opioid Oxycontin for the pain. However, Oxycontin is highly addictive, has severe side effects and is responsible for killing thousands of people a year. Marijuana, on the other hand, has a very low chance of addiction, has fewer side effects and has never been responsible for a death. Many studies indicate that marijuana is more effective at treating pain. Seum, Jr. echoed this sentiment saying that it did not effectively treat his pain and it impaired his ability to function. He also made it clear that he did not want to be addicted to dangerous opioid drugs. As it stands, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana for the treatment of various conditions. In these states, opioid related hospital visits and death by opioids are down by approximately 25 percent.
For now, the ban on medical marijuana in Kentucky still stands strong. However, plaintiffs can choose to appeal the court’s decision. So far, there is no indication on whether or not the plaintiffs will continue in this endeavor. The plaintiff’s lawsuit may also present a push for lawmakers in Kentucky to take up the medical marijuana cause in legislation.