Debating Marijuana in Kentucky

By Yasmine Sadrinia

In the lobby of a crowded doctors office, Lisa Howard, a 53-year-old waitress from Bardstown, is patiently awaiting her appointment with her eye doctor.

Howard suffers from glaucoma, a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The Glaucoma Foundation claims that lowering the intraocular pressure, which simply means the pressure within the eye, is a key way of slowing the effects of the disease.

Marijuana has been proven to help treat glaucoma, as shown in a study done by the European Journal for Neuroscience. Researchers tested the effects of cannabis eye drops on intraocular pressure, and the results showed that intraocular pressure was lowered significantly within just 30 minutes of use of cannabis.

Howard developed glaucoma when she was 40, and she says that it has been an uphill battle ever since.

“I hope one day marijuana will be legalized, so more people can reap the health benefits of using it and not risk getting in trouble with the law,” she said. “It has helped my symptoms so much and I wish more people had a positive viewpoint on it.”

Kentucky legislators in the House and Senate introduced medical marijuana legislation in 2016 and 2017. The bills were not given significant consideration and were ultimately dismissed, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

Earlier this month, Bevin told radio personality Leland Conway on WHAS Radio that legalizing marijuana was “not going to happen” while he’s governor, according to this article by the Courier Journal.

James Cook, a 44-year-old car mechanic from Fort Thomas, says he agrees with Bevin’s stance on legalization.

“I do not think it should be legal to smoke marijuana because I think it’s an addictive and harmful drug just like cocaine or meth, and we have enough of that going around right now,” Cook said.

As Cook checked the tire pressure on a customer’s vehicle, he explained how some of his own friends have been arrested on marijuana charges before, and he thinks that all of those people have learned a lesson from it.

“They all have gotten their acts together since they got caught having weed on them,” Cook said, “so I think it’s a good thing that cops are cracking down on it even though some people think it doesn’t matter. I think it helps get people back on the straight path.”

Kalin Yonts, a 20-year-old paralegal from Bowling Green, also does not agree with marijuana being a legal substance.

“I think it would get abused just like every other prescribed medication,” Yonts said.

“The legalization of marijuana also poses a threat to the success of family life ,” Yonts said, as she typed away on the computer in her downtown office.”

“I usually don’t care what people do, but when it’s something that takes a toll on innocent people, that’s when I have a problem,” Yonts said. “It affects people’s children and their spouses. Nobody wants a deadbeat pothead as a father or husband.”

Lyndsey Baldwin, age 32, also a paralegal from Bowling Green, has a different stance.

“I won’t ever tell someone what they can and can’t do, because I don’t want somebody trying to control what I do with my life,” Baldwin said. “We should let people receive the medical help if they need it and let the authorities deal with anybody abusing it.”

Annalicia Carlson, a 20 years old and a student from Gallatin, Tennessee, has a more fiscal reasoning behind her stance on why she thinks marijuana should be legalized.

“I think from a taxation standpoint it is very smart. Take Colorado for example. Their economy is thriving,” Carlson said as she sipped a large latte at Spencer’s Coffee.

According to the research company VS Strategies, cumulative cannabis sales in Colorado have generated $506 million in tax revenue.

“It would be amazing to be able to put that money back into infrastructure, public schools, and art programs,” Carlson said, “and it would help decrease the incarceration rates of minority men and women who are behind bars due to marijuana charges.”

Logan Adams, an 18-year-old student from Columbia, Kentucky, disagrees.

“Although I don’t necessarily disagree with legalization of marijuana, I just don’t think it’s going to do as much good as people speculate,” Adams said.

Adams thinks the root of the issue lies within deeper problems our society faces.

“We need to focus on healing racial tensions and gaining more trust in our police force. Legalizing a drug should be the least of our worries,” Adams said.

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