A top Republican Kentucky senator says he knows that his constituents support legalizing medical marijuana—but he won’t vote for it because he fears it will lead to recreational legalization. The senator, who profits from sales of another recreational substance as the owner of a bourbon distillery, said people can go ahead and try to vote him out if they’re upset about it. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R) was asked about the issue during a panel discussion with other legislators on 2022 legislative priorities that was hosted by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) on Monday. Prompted with polling that shows the state’s voters strongly back medical cannabis, Thayer acknowledged that the policy “does enjoy broad support in Kentucky. I’m just not for it.” “Are you hearing from your constituents that they want it to be considered?” the moderator asked. “I’ve been hearing about it for years. I know my constituents are for it,” Thayer said. “But this is a republic, and they elect us to go to Frankfort and make decisions on their behalf—and if they don’t like it, they can take it out on me in the next election.” It’s a brazen statement from an elected official, effectively telling the people he represents that he knows better than them and then daring them to unseat him if they don’t like his position. The GOP leader did say that there may be the votes to advance reform legislation like a medical marijuana bill from Rep. Jason Nemes (R) that soundly passed the House in 2020 and has continued to be workshopped. Nemes “has been working hard to improve his bill. He’s told me a little bit about it,” Thayer said. “I’m just not going to be for it. That doesn’t mean others won’t and that we won’t have the votes to pass it. Right now, I don’t really see the energy for it.” “Everybody gets to decide on their own what they’re for and what they’re against in our caucus, and I’m not going to try to persuade them one way or the other on that issue,” he said. The reason for Thayer’s opposition is somewhat ironic. The senator said he thinks medical cannabis is “a slippery slope for recreational marijuana.” But he doesn’t seem to have a problem with other, arguably more dangerous, recreational products. The senator owns a whiskey distillery.
Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment, 01/04/2022 12:00:00