Kentucky pensions are in the tank, while the opioid epidemic is pounding the Appalachian state. Cannabis could help both situations, respectively, however, cannabis stigma is still alive and well, especially in rural Kentucky.
Gov. Matt Bevin (R) says that marijuana will not be legalized while he’s in office and calls legalization a “sucker’s bet.” He says that under his watch they won’t be legalizing another substance you can overdose on.
The “problem” is, there’s never been a deadly overdose of marijuana. There are anxiety attacks that can land one in the ER, especially if new to the plant’s effects, but no deaths.
Bevin pointed to the spike in ER visits in Colorado since legalization, and it’s true that they’ve spiked, but again, nothing deadly and no one was sent home with anything worse for the wear other than a bad case of cotton mouth and a little bit of a scare.
On the other hand, opioid overdoses are a very real thing in Kentucky, which had 33 out of 100,000 residents die from overdoses, the second highest rate in the country. Bevin has come up with ideas to combat those numbers, including making life saving drugs like naloxone available over the counter.
Cannabis has been shown to reduce the amount of opiates a user needs to relieve pain and in many cases cannabis replaces the deadly drugs all together, thus also saving lives.
Pensions also need real saving in Kentucky, where there is a $30 billion debt in ailing pension systems. Cannabis revenue and taxes could help fill that gap, but Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders had this to say, “I’m not willing to risk my grandchildren’s health to save my pension. I don’t think that’s the right way to go with this thing. And I think we’re guilty of sending a mixed message to our children. We remind them every day that they need to reduce their smoking habits. They need to stop drinking so much. And yet we’re trying to encourage them to smoke more pot.”
There are some Kentucky lawmakers open to the idea of cannabis, including Kentucky Sen. Dan Seum (R), who says that he plans on introducing a bill to legalize it. Bevin has at least two more years in office though, so we’re not placing bets anytime soon.