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Kentucky lawmaker wants to decriminalize marijuana, tax it to generate state revenue and let voters decide

The legislation would allow Kentuckians 21 and older to possess, use, buy and sell up to an ounce of cannabis without criminal penalty.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky could become the next state to decriminalize adult use of cannabis.

State Representative Nima Kulkarni, D-Louisville, pre-filed legislation on Nov. 29 that would remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis and give voters a chance to protect those provisions constitutionally. 

The amendment would go before voters next November if approved by three-fifths of the State House of Representatives and Senate during the upcoming 2022 legislative session.

Kulkarni's constitutional amendment would allow Kentuckians 21 and older to possess, use, buy and sell up to an ounce of cannabis without criminal penalty. 

Kentuckians would also be able to own up to five plants for personal use.

Her second bill would be the one to remove the criminal penalties for possessing, cultivating and/or selling small amounts of cannabis while maintaining penalties for possessing larger amounts.

It would also remove cannabis accessories from Kentucky's drug-paraphernalia statues.

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"Other states taking this step are reaping considerable benefits, and it's time for Kentucky to join them," she said.

The state representative cited that current cannabis statutes ruin many people's lives, especially people of color.

Kulkarni also said that decriminalization would give cancer patients and veterans suffering from PTSD another option for relief that isn't a stronger, potentially addictive drug.

The legislation would also result in a new reliable source of revenue without raising state taxes.

"Polls have repeatedly shown a majority of Kentuckians back de-criminalization and allowing cannabis to be used responsibly by adults," Kulkarni said.

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Read full copy of the amendment

Read full copy of the constitution amendment

Numerous organizations are supporting Rep. Kulkarni including the ACLU of Kentucky, the Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition, the Americans for Prosperity-Kentucky, the State Director for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, and the Kentucky Chapter for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law.

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