Home » Legislative Update: Lawmakers act on bills related to medical marijuana, sports wagering, and more on final day

Legislative Update: Lawmakers act on bills related to medical marijuana, sports wagering, and more on final day

The Bottom Line: Jacqueline Pitts

Legislation legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky saw final passage on Thursday in the final hours.

Under Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Sen. Steve West, medical cannabis could be prescribed for a specific list of conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic nausea and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A person would have to be approved for a card allowing its use. A patient under 18 couldn’t possess or acquire medical cannabis without assistance from a designated caregiver.

The bill passed through a House committee Wednesday afternoon before seeing final passage on the House floor with a 66-32 vote.

Gov. Andy Beshear has announced he will sign the bill into law Friday morning.

Legislation to legalize betting on sporting events in Kentucky, one of the most talked about issues of the 2023 session, has now seen final passage on the last day of the session.

House Bill 551, sponsored by Republican Rep. Michael Meredith and Democrat Al Gentry, would make the act of sports wagering legal with a regulatory framework placed under the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which has regulated wagering in this state for more than 50 years.

Thirty-six states nationwide and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation.

Estimates say the bill would bring in about $23 million in annual revenue for the state, the majority of which would go toward Kentucky’s underfunded public pension system.

The legislation passed the Senate Thursday evening with a 25-12 vote.

Because the Senate did not make any changes to the bill, it now goes straight to the governor and does not have to be voted on again by the House.

The governor has indicated he would sign a sports wagering bill into law.

House Bill 135, sponsored by Rep. Josh Bray, provides for the operation of autonomous vehicles in Kentucky in a way that promotes safety and competition, while avoiding undue restrictions on the technology.

An autonomous vehicle (AV) is a vehicle equipped with a comprehensive suite of sensors and computing systems to perform the entire driving task without a human driver (defined as a Level 4 or 5 system under Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards.

The legislation contains a framework that would allow an AV to operate in Kentucky without a human driver only ifit meets certain conditions in order to help companies to help with competitiveness in certain industries and address workforce issues.

In an effort to address a deadly drug that is rapidly making a disastrous impact on the lives of Kentuckians, House Bill 353 saw final passage Thursday to legalize fentanyl testing strips.

According to bill sponsor Rep. Kim Moser, fentanyl was responsible for nearly 40 percent of drug overdoses in Kentucky in 2021.

“House Bill 353 ensures that individuals are not arrested when they are trying to prevent a drug overdose,” Moser said in committee. “It prevents these accidental overdoses by allowing legal test strips for fentanyl.”

All these items now head to the governor. Because the General Assembly will now adjourn Sine Die and the veto period is passed, if the governor chooses to veto any of the bills then they will not have a chance to make any changes or override a veto on any legislation.

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