A Leitchfield resident approached the Grayson County Fiscal Court on Tuesday requesting support for the passage of a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky.

Alexandria Fulkerson, of Leitchfield, addressed the court Tuesday afternoon to share the story of her infant daughter, Kolbie, who, after her birth in December 2017, was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria (BPP), which, she says, causes her daughter to suffer from seizures and breathing problems. She has previously undergone a tracheotomy to open up her airway and surgery to establish a gastrostomy tube in order for her to eat.

According to Fulkerson, the use of medical marijuana could help ease her daughter's symptoms, specifically, calming her brain enough to reduce seizures, and she requested that the Fiscal Court pass a resolution stating it would support a state law that would legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky.

Grayson County Judge-Executive Kevin Henderson said that, despite his law enforcement background, he remains open-minded to the topic of medical marijuana and sympathizes with Fulkerson regarding her daughter's illness. Henderson also noted that he has personally seen reports that medical marijuana can assist with seizures but would like more time to explore the topic further before action is taken.

Julie Cantwell, a Hardin County resident and Central Kentucky coordinator for Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, also attended Tuesday's meeting to support Fulkerson and said that, prior to the use of cannabis oil, her son suffered from around 200 seizures per day.

Cantwell added that the legalization of medical marijuana would not legalize recreational marijuana and that its use would be strictly regulated.

Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins asked how, if medical marijuana were legalized, the drug would be ingested, and, Fulkerson said, that it can be put in fluids, but the method by which it is ingested would likely be decided by the prescribing doctor.

On the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's official website, fda.gov, it states that the FDA "has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication. The agency has, however, approved one specific drug product that contains the purified substance cannabidiol, one of more than 80 active chemicals in marijuana, for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years of age and older. The FDA has also approved two drugs containing a synthetic version of a substance that is present in the marijuana plant and one other drug containing a synthetic substance that acts similarly to compounds from marijuana but is not present in marijuana. The FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in the use of marijuana to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders."

The FDA goes on to say that it supports scientific research into the medical uses of marijuana and researchers who conduct "adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, which may lead to the development of safe and effective marijuana products to treat medical conditions."

The decision to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky would ultimately be that of the state General Assembly, and state Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, said thus far there has been only anecdotal testimony regarding the health benefits of medical marijuana.

Moore said that as a responsible legislator, he does not wish to stand between someone and something that could serve as a legitimate medical benefit, but his experience with individuals pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana is that, despite what they may testify to the contrary, they actually seek unlimited marijuana usage.

He also cited law enforcement officers who say that marijuana is a gateway drug, and said that, with the state's ongoing drug epidemic, if Kentucky were to legalize something that is shown to be detrimental, "as far as public policy, that would be very irresponsible."

A number of years ago, however, Moore said, the state legislature legalized the use of cannabinoid (CBD) oil, which is derived from industrial hemp (a member of the same plant species as marijuana), can be purchased over-the-counter, and is the only product of which he is aware that has been proven to reduce seizures.

He said he has also led a committee of state legislators to draft a letter to Veterans Affairs and the FDA asking that they explore legitimate medical uses for marijuana.

In a written statement, Moore's Democratic opponent for the District 18 House seat in the November General Election, Donielle Lovell, said the following in regards to the legalization of medical marijuana:

To date, 31 states have medical marijuana laws. Major organizations such as the American Legion, are pressing at the national level for Congress to remove the schedule 1 classification so better research can be conducted. In fact, they passed Resolution 28 that calls for the National level to allow VA providers to talk about medicinal marijuana as an option in states where it is legal. Many make the argument that research has not shown that medicinal marijuana does not "cure" the diseases from which people seek relief. While true in the language of "cure," studies have shown that it is effective in treating the symptoms of diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain, which is why the American Legion is interested in the uses of medicinal marijuana. 

In 2017, a Pew Research study of nearly 8,000 members of law enforcement, found that two-thirds believed it should be legal for personal or medicinal use. When you drill down into that study, and the numbers, it showed that 32 percent thought it should be legal for medicinal or personal use, 37 percent thought for medicinal only and 30 percent found it should be legal at all. In my conversations with Kentucky law enforcement officials, I've found similar results - the opinion is mixed. This study also shows a generational divide in attitudes toward marijuana in general. Younger law enforcement officers feel laws should be relaxed, and those who are older feel no changes should be made. 

I also spent time with those who suffer from symptoms that can be treated. I've heard their stories. I've seen the impacts of their pain on their everyday life. What they are asking for is simply the option for a conversation with their medical provider and making this an option for their condition. I firmly believe patients and doctors should have the freedom to explore this option.

Finally, marijuana must be removed from the schedule 1 classification at the federal level if we ever wish to settle this question of effectiveness in "cure" and precise measurement of relief. We entrust our medical providers for so much. Why not this?

The Fiscal Court tabled a decision on whether to pass a resolution supporting a state bill that would legalize medical marijuana to allow magistrates time to review the request, but Henderson encouraged Fulkerson to continue to fight even if a bill does not pass.

In other business:

*Henderson said that Grayson County has been selected as one of 23 counties in the state to receive funding for industrial/economic development as part of $30 million in TVA funds paid to Kentucky.

The funding must go toward industrial and/or economic development, and the first payment, which will be $75,000, will be given in January. After that, the county will receive $100,000, and, later, $150,000. The dates for the second and third payments have not yet been determined.

Because the funds must benefit economic and industrial development, the Fiscal Court voted Tuesday to appoint the Leitchfield-Grayson County Industrial Development Corporation as the agency to determine how to best use the funds.

*Chaffins announced that Deputy Jeff King, currently serving as court security at the Grayson County Judicial Center, will soon start as a full-time Resource Officer for the Leitchfield Elizabethtown Community and Technical College campus.

ECTC will pay 100 percent of King's salary, and he is expected to start his new position after a replacement court security deputy is hired.

*The Fiscal Court voted to appoint Brad Mudd to the Grayson County Tourism Board of Commissioners to replace Jeanna Carnes.