State lawmakers set to debate critical issues

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In the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly session, several critical issues will be considered, but a few rise to the top of my list of concerns for families in our state.

Ky CapitolFirst, and once again, we continue to hope the House of Representatives will work to get pro-life legislation passed. After years of committee leadership deliberately killing ALL pro-life bills, most legislators still believe most such bills would pass the full House with a huge margin of victory. We know from experience that pro-life bills would easily pass the Senate. This matter is literally one of life and death for unborn children in Kentucky. Please consider calling the legislative message line at (800) 372-7181 and leaving a message with your legislators encouraging the support of any pro-life bills.

Second, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg who claims Baptist as his religious affiliation, has filed a bill in this year’s legislative session that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients. While we would like to believe the prescription requirement in the bill would limit its use, we have seen in the past how willing wayward doctors have been able to hand out prescription narcotics. Lawmakers need to see this for what it is: another step in the push by pro-marijuana advocates to legalize marijuana altogether.

As for the medical benefits of marijuana, if such benefits can be proven, any of us would be in favor of the Food and Drug Administration permitting and regulating marijuana as a medicine. We are hopeful that ongoing research will reveal this possibility. For now, the FDA states its position as follows:

The FDA has not approved any product containing or derived from botanical marijuana for any indication. This means that the FDA has not found any such product to be safe or effective for the treatment of any disease or condition. Study of marijuana in clinical trial settings is needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of marijuana for medical use. (http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm421168.htm#Q2)

The FDA has approved one drug containing a synthetic version of a substance that is present in the marijuana plant and another drug containing a synthetic substance that acts similarly to compounds from marijuana but is not present in marijuana. Extensive testing has proven these drugs are effective and that any risks to patients are outweighed by the potential benefits. That is the way the process is supposed to work. For Stumbo to suggest that Kentucky legislators should usurp the FDA’s ongoing process of studying the effectiveness and safety of marijuana as a medicine is irresponsible at best. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and American Cancer Society have all reviewed the science as it relates to their respective discipline and do not advocate the smoking or ingesting of marijuana as medicine.

Please consider calling the legislative message line at (800) 372-7181 and leaving a message with your legislators encouraging them to let the FDA, not politicians, regulate medical drugs.

A third pressing issue is that of payday lending. In short, payday lending is an easy-to-get, “short-term” loan available at ridiculous interest rates, sometimes nearing 400 percent. Loan sharks use these loans to further entrap the poor. Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr and Democrat Sens. Dennis Parrett and Reginald Thomas, would eliminate the $15 service fee per $100 loan and set a maximum annual percentage rate of 36 percent. It is good legislation, and I encourage you to encourage our elected representatives to support it.

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