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Ky. Education Association backs – then abandons – medical marijuana for education, pension funding

Ky. Education Association backs – then abandons – medical marijuana for education, pension funding
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Delegates for Kentucky’s largest education advocacy group voted Friday to support medical marijuana as a means to fund pensions and public education as part of its legislative agenda before quickly backtracking from the position.

The Kentucky Education Association’s Delegate Assembly ultimately decided to approve a more general stance that backs any legislation that generates revenue for the state’s education and pension systems.

The assembly, which was closed to media, voted 204-156 to support medical marijuana bills that come before the state legislature, according to a since-deleted tweet by duPont Manual High School teacher James Miller.

KEA President Stephanie Winkler and Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim also confirmed Friday morning’s vote.

Delegates later rescinded that decision, Winkler and McKim told WDRB News. The assembly passed a much broader measure supporting revenue-generating bills afterward, they said.

Winkler said that Miller’s tweet on the medical marijuana vote was premature and did not reflect the assembly’s final decision.

“There was a vote, but the debate kept going,” she told WDRB News. “Someone tweeted that out prematurely before the session was complete, before the debate was done.”

“It’s not really a matter of a position change, but rather than having a list of, ‘We’re open to this, we’re open to that,’ they decided it would make more sense to say more generally, ‘We support measures that would generate more revenue that are not contrary to any other policies we have,’” said McKim, who supported the medicinal cannabis measure initially passed by KEA delegates.

Winkler said whether the group could support for medicinal cannabis would depend on the bill’s language.

“We can’t come out and say that we have a solid platform in favor of medical marijuana because we don’t,” she said. “Our platform specifically says from our delegates that we support new streams of tax revenue that are dedicated to public education or public pensions, period.”

“It would depend on whether or not the bill said that it was dedicated to those purposes,” Winkler said when asked whether KEA could back medical marijuana legislation.

McKim said KEA could still support medical cannabis bills based on the generic language of the legislative policy passed Friday.

Advocates say medicinal marijuana would generate revenue for the state.

Jaime Montalvo, executive director of Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, told WDRB News that the exact amount would depend on how many counties launch programs and that House Bill 166 would have dedicated any revenue generated toward the state’s ailing pension systems, which face more than $41 billion in unfunded liabilities.

That bill, which would have made Kentucky the 30th state to create a medical cannabis program, did not get a vote in the House Judiciary Committee despite multiple hearings.

“I think there could be,” McKim said when asked whether KEA could support medical marijuana bills based on the legislative agenda passed Friday. “That would not conflict with KEA policy.”

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

Copyright 2018 WDRB News. All rights reserved.



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