Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin spoke about his support for legalizing medical marijuana in highly personal terms on Tuesday, telling a community forum that his teenage nephew died after fighting “a very hard battle with cancer.”
Asked about his stance on marijuana during the two-hour community event, the Republican governor said he would be “happy” to sign a bill that would make marijuana legal in Kentucky for medical purposes, but added that his support would depend on “how it’s written.”
“There is incredible medicinal value associated with cannabis,” Bevin said.
Bevin staked out his stance as another medical marijuana legalization bill was introduced in the Kentucky legislature on Tuesday.
During the forum, Bevin became emotional when he remembered his 14-year-old nephew, who died in 2016 after a “very hard battle with cancer.”
“His life was a hard one at the end,” the governor said. “He’s one of many people who go through the same difficulty.”
The only options many such patients have are pharmaceutical drugs that can come “with such horrific side effects,” he said.
For patients who could benefit from medical marijuana, Bevin said: “They should have the ability to use a natural drug that exists to provide relief … when it is needed, where it can be prescribed and regulated as we would other such drugs.”
The governor was emphatic about what he doesn’t want to see in a medical marijuana bill sent to his desk by state lawmakers. Bevin said it should not be presented as a way to raise tax revenue for Kentucky.
After the community event, Bevin would not comment specifically on any of the pending medical marijuana bills, saying it would be “presumptuous” to do so because the bills are likely to undergo changes if they move through the legislature.
Medical marijuana is legal in 33 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.