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Kentucky schools could get option to dispense medical marijuana

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(The Center Square) – Public and private schools could opt out of Kentucky’s upcoming medical marijuana program but must create a specific policy if they choose to allow students to use medical marijuana at school.

The plan, which makes changes to a medical cannabis bill signed into law last year that begins the program in 2025, now heads to the Senate after easily passing the House 66-30.

One of the changes allows schools a choice on allowing medical cannabis at school.

“If they don’t opt out of the program, that also requires them to have a mechanism by which they would administer the medication whether it’s a school nurse, a different school employee or a parent,” said House Majority Whip Jason Nemes, R-Middletown.

Rep. Josh Bray, R-Mount Vernon, said some districts expressed liability concerns.

“This was one of my biggest concerns last year after speaking to my schools because they didn’t want to be put in the position of administering medication that didn’t have instructions, didn’t have dosage, that they have no clue about,” Bray said.

The new bill would also allow local governments to apply a fee to the medical cannabis program or opt out before a license is approved.

It would also begin the licensing application process soon to make sure the program starts Jan. 1 and requires a patient to have a pharmacist consultation.

Some Democrats said the changes make access to medical marijuana more difficult.

Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson, D-Lexington, said a similar bill in the Senate increases the conditions that would qualify.

“It is important we take these steps to further protect the patient,” Nemes said.

House Minority Whip Rachel Roberts, D-Newport, questioned the need for the consultation.

“(Some studies) do state that currently, cannabis drug interactions are mostly theoretical or come from case reports due to the lack of clinical trials,” Roberts said. “I think that this is duplicative. I think that we should trust the prescribing physicians.”

Also, Rep. Sarah Stalker, D-Louisville, said schools should not be given the option of not participating.

“This doesn’t feel like we’re taking care of Kentuckians,” Stalker said. “I just want to remind this body that these are very vulnerable individuals – people who are sick – and we’re making it harder for them to access medicine that could ease their quality of life.”

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