By Steve Elliott
Recreational marijuana use would become legal in the Bluegrass State in 2016 under if a new bill in the Legislature becomes law.
The Cannabis Freedom Act is being sponsored by state Senator Perry Clark (D-Louisville), and it would legalize cannabis use for those 21 and older, decriminalize growing, distribution, and public consumption, and place an excise tax on weed, reports Jackson French at the Bowling Green Daily News.
"Originally what inspired me was a group of retired Teamsters," said Clark. The union members knew that using cannabis was a cheaper and healthier alternative to costly pharmaceutical prescription painkillers, he said.
"They didn't want to be criminalized for something that shouldn't have been criminalized in the first place," Clark said.
His bill is heavily based on Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana there in 2012, when it was approved by 55 percent of the state's voters. Colorado raised $100 million in taxes during the 2014-2015 fiscal year on recreational marijuana sales.
In addition, Colorado's marijuana arrests and citations have dropped 80 percent, and the state's tourism has increased by 10 percent, according to Clark.
"Since they legalized cannabis, everything's gotten better," he said.