CITIZEN: “Medical” Marijuana Isn’t the Answer for Kentucky

SB 47 ignores that “medical” marijuana is NOT proven safe & effective, CANNOT be accurately dosed, and could WORSEN opioid crisis.

What is “Medical” Marijuana?
So-called “medical” marijuana is the use of the entire marijuana plant or its crude extracts for supposed therapeutic purposes.

The Problem
Researchers generally consider medications which use purified chemicals derived from or based on those in the marijuana plant to be more promising therapeutically than use of the whole marijuana plant or its crude extracts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several marijuana-based medications using purified chemicals that have been proven safe and effective, while others undergo clinical trials. However, use of the whole marijuana plant or its crude extracts remains unproven.

Why Hasn’t It Been Proven Safe & Effective?
The marijuana plant, when its crude extracts are used or it is smoked in its entirety, includes hundreds of unknown active chemicals. This also makes accurate, consistent dosages nearly impossible.

There are known adverse health effects of smoking and THC-induced cognitive impairment. Research is also lacking on long-term impacts for people with health and age vulnerabilities, or immune systems compromised from disease or treatment.

We Can’t Count on Marijuana to End Our Opioid Crisis
First of all, the side effects and harms of “medical” marijuana have undergone less stringent study and review than opioids did. We’ve already seen the devastating harm that unintended consequences can have.

While an initial 2014 study suggested that “medical” marijuana may slow opioid overdose death rates, a 2019 analysis by the same research team found that the trend reversed with additional data. States with medical marijuana experienced an opioid overdose death rate 22.7 percent higher than expected.

It’s clear that medical marijuana isn’t the silver bullet to Kentucky’s opioid crisis and that more research is needed.


  1. “Medical” marijuana leads to full legalization
    — 37 states legalized “medical” marijuana; 21 have already expanded to recreational, with at least four more considering it.
  2. Nothing medical about “medical” marijuana
    — The whole marijuana plant or its crude extracts have not been proven to be safe and effective as medicine.
    — Botanicals contain hundreds of unknown active chemicals and it’s near impossible to get accurate and consistent dosage.
  3. Children will be negatively impacted
    — Legalization can lead to increased access among children.

Click here to view and download the PDF of the print version of the Citizen paper.