Marijuana a solution for Kentucky’s pension crisis?

Aug 10, 2021 | News

By Kaitlyn Craft

For Heather Mendez, 38 of Glasgow, the pension crisis in Kentucky hits close to home with her brother being a teacher at Grapevine Elementary School in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Mendez’s brother, along with thousands of other Kentucky public employees, may not receive his share of pension money that the state is required to give out when the employees retire.

The state is $64 billion dollars short for their pension plans for the next 30 years, according to the official pension crisis government website. The PFM Group of Philadelphia which is studying the pension crisis, gave Kentucky a list of recommendations that the state could use to raise money, and one on their list was the legalization of marijuana.

“If they put regulations on it and they monitor it, I don’t see a problem if specified people grow it, like a business,” said Mendez. “It would help increase Kentucky’s income.”

A bill was introduced in January by Sen. Perry Clark that would eliminate the prohibition of marijuana in Kentucky and make it a regulated and taxed system, according the Marijuana Policy Project’s website.

However, the legislature adjourned in March without a hearing or a vote on the bill.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who was elected in 2015, has since said that the legalization and regulation of marijuana in the state would not be happening during his term as governor.

In 2016 and 2017, a medical marijuana legislation was introduced in Kentucky, however it was not considered seriously and the legislature adjourned without any action taken, according to the MPP.

If Kentucky legalized marijuana, it would join 29 other states, plus Washington D.C., where marijuana is legal for medical purposes.

For Joe Young, 28 and a Bowing Green resident from Michigan, a medical marijuana state, medical marijuana would be an option that he said he would be in support of.

“I know a lot of people who really need it and who could use it,” said Young. “Anything is bad if you do it too much; take everything in moderation.”

Joe Anthony, 19 and a Bowling Green resident also from Michigan, said his uncle back in Michigan has a medical condition that requires him to use medical marijuana regularly.

“He says it is super helpful for him, and I know that there is a lot of economic value to it,” said Anthony.

However, Ruth Ann Loid, 75 of Bowling Green, said she thinks making marijuana legal in Kentucky, for medical purposes or recreational purposes is not something that should ever happen because she said it would do more harm than good.

“We have enough problems in Kentucky without making marijuana legal,” said Loid. “They need the best treatment that they can get, but not marijuana that’s not one of the good treatments, I think it goes against your health.”

The use of medical marijuana can be helpful in many disorders people suffer from every day, including the treatment and prevention of glaucoma, according to the National Eye Institute.

It can also be used to prevent epileptic seizures and pain from multiple sclerosis according to studies published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

In 2014, then-Gov. Steven Beshear signed a bill into law that made the use of a component of marijuana called cannabidiol or CBD legal for people with the seizure disorders, however the bill required physicians to write out prescriptions for it and with marijuana being illegal under the federal law it was still illegal to use, according to the MPP.

Rhonda Whitaker, 50 from Bowling Green, who worked in the health care field for 25 years and has a brother who lives in Colorado where marijuana is legal, said that she is for medical marijuana, but not for legalization in general, due to how her brother talks about the marijuana system in Colorado.

“When I was in school in the 80s, kids smoked pot all the time. That was the biggest thing you could do, smoke pot and drink. Now it’s so many other things,” said Whitaker. “If it can help somebody and it can be done in the right way, do it.”

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