Kentucky has become a surprising battleground in the push for marijuana legalization. Many prominent politicians from the state have argued that cannabis could be a major tool to help solve the government's budget deficit. And now an important Kentucky Republican has signed onto the cause.
Kentucky State Senator Dan Seum is introducing a bill that would legalize marijuana create a pathway towards establishing a cannabis market. Seum is the chairman of the Senate Majority GOP caucus, making hime one of the highest ranking Republicans in the state. His support for marijuana legalization could be a big spark for the movement.
“We've been too late at a lot of things in the past in Kentucky, and we have suffered economically because of it,” Seum said. “It's out there. We're using it anyway. We might as well reap the harvest, so to speak.”
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is currently pushing the legislature to make major budget cuts in order to afford the state's pension program. Seum believes the marijuana industry in Kentucky is worth $2 billion, and could generate millions of dollars for the state.
Under Seum's proposal, one percent of marijuana tax revenue would go to treating substance abuse, one percent would go to education about drug abuse, three percent would go to law enforcement to train for impaired driving, and the rest would go to the state's general fund. Seum estimates the state would make between $100 million and $200 million would be created if legalization were to occur.
Another high-ranking Republican said that the marijuana legalization debate is important to have, but this may not be the best time and would rather sort out the state's budget first. Seum gives his bill a 50/50 chance of passing in 2018.
So it might not be too long before the Bluegrass State has an entirely different meaning.