Gov. Matt Bevin (R) of Kentucky went on record Tuesday in a radio interview with WHAS host Terry Meiners calling legalized marijuana a “sucker’s bet”, adding definitively, “We’re not going to legalize marijuana in this state. … Not while I’m Governor.”.
Kentucky has been in a spot of fiscal trouble lately, bordering on the verge of crisis.
The state’s public pension plan is currently in the hole $30 billion in unfunded assets, which could leave state pensioners who rely on those funds without a safety net.
As debate continues on how to close the massive gap, some politicians are looking to states like Colorado as an example of how to use marijuana to infuse the state’s coffers.
Pressure mounted last week after a Republican from the State Senate announced he would support marijuana legalization in Kentucky in light of the looming crisis.
Dan Seum (R-Fairdale), the Senate Majority Caucus Chariman, said “We’ve got a desperate situation in Frankfort over the pension issues.”.
Seum believes marijuana could be Kentucky’s next cash crop, citing the addition of new jobs and the addition of over $100 million a year in new tax revenue for the state.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Cites spike in homelessness and overdoses
In the radio interview Tuesday, Gov. Matt Bevin insisted that option was off the table for Kentucky.
“So, a lot of toked-up people gambling, that’s the solution for Kentucky? I would say no and no. Not while I’m Governor. Those are sucker’s bets. We’re not going to legalize marijuana in this state.” – Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky (R)
Bevin suggested that any economic benefits to Colorado have been outweighed by the public health and safety costs of legalization."MJ is not like a generation ago, people are overdosing on edibles and things." - Gov. Bevin Click To Tweet
Bevin also cited the uptick in homelessness and emergency room visits following legalization in Colorado.
Dr. Daniel Vigil manages the Marijuana Health Monitoring and Research Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health. When asked by InsiderLouisville, Vigil made a lengthy statement of endorsement that despite some early obstacles the governement, health and law enforcement officials of Colorado have adapted and refined their regulations and procedures since.
Vigil said “What Mr. Bevin may be referring to is an increase in calls to the poison center and visits to emergency departments related to marijauna.”
True, according to a study released by Colorado’s Dept. of Public Safety stating that emergency room visits related to marijuana consumption increased from 739 per 100,000 visits to 956 per 100,000 visits since 2010.
Vigil went on to say that “these are not overdoses comparable to an opiod overdose, and a better term is overconsumption.” A 2017 guide released by the DEA and DOJ stated, “no deaths from overdose of marijuana had been reported”.
Meanwhile, actual drug overdoses in the U.S., mostly opiod related, have skyrocketed in recent years. 2016 showed a 22% increase in deaths attributable to drug overdoses from the previous year to a new high of 64,000 deaths.
Incidentally, Kentucky is already leading the way in overdose deaths with a rate that is second highest in the nation.