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

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.

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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Jacqueline Pitts
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