FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - A Kentucky lawmaker has proposed a bill to legalize marijuana and dedicate the revenue to the state retirement systems.
"Other states have shown that legalizing cannabis for adult use is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Rep. Cluster Howard, D-Jackson. “It’s a major revenue generator; it frees up critical jail and prison space; it helps counteract the deadly opioid epidemic, and it gives farmers a major new cash crop. The longer we wait, the more we miss out on these benefits.”
His bill would also decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and provide free expungements for those convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor.
According to Howard, 75 percent of the license and wholesale tax fees would go to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System and 25 percent would be provided to the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.
His bill also calls for the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to oversee four types of licensing – cultivator, processor, tester, and retailer – and each license would have to be renewed annually.
Home growers would have to pay $250 for a permit, which would allow them to have up to five mature plants and five immature ones.
All other licensees would have to pay fees based in part on their size.
According to the bill, each county would have the chance to have at least two retailers selling cannabis and related products, but larger counties would be barred from having more than one per 2,300 people.
Sales would be limited to those 21 and older, and smoking cannabis in public would be prohibited.
“Although my bill is focused on future sales, it is important to point out that it also benefits those convicted of misdemeanor cannabis charges in the past,” Rep. Howard said. “I believe they should have access to a free expungement, which in turn will help them when it comes to such things as getting a job. I also think we need to stop prosecuting those possessing small amounts of cannabis. With our crowded jails, my bill is a sensible step we need to take.”