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Date: 12-24-2017

In meeting with Comer, many voice support for the legalization of medical marijuana

Dozens of residents across Western Kentucky got up close and personal with U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, this week during his first marathon meeting with local constituents.

Comer has a branch office at Madisonville City Hall, and he invited everyone within the 1st Congressional District to stop by during regular business hours Friday for a 15-minute chat.

"This is the first time I have ever done this, and it has been very productive," he said. "I did town halls in every county and most of them were fine. But, we had a lot of protesters (at times) that would be disruptive, at least to where we didn't have a productive town hall. This is a good way to spend 15 minutes with everyone."

Throughout the day, Comer met with individual citizens and veterans, as well as representatives of coal companies and trucking industries.

"There is a lot of concern about healthcare, a lot of VA issues, and then there are a lot of people who just wanted to speak their mind about the president," he said. "Some people wanted me to support him. Others came in and wanted me to impeach him. Everybody has a strong opinion of the president one way or another."

District One Magistrate Karol Welch, among other citizens, wished to voice their support for the federal legalization of medical marijuana. Welch lost her father to Parkinson's Disease 20 years ago, and now her husband is battling the disease. In November, Welch voiced her support for statewide legislation during a regular meeting with the fiscal court, and urged residents to do the same.

"It all started out at a (convention) with the Kentucky Association of Counties in Louisville, at the Galt House," she said. "I spoke before them and said we as Kentuckians are really making a big mistake. For one, you can buy marijuana anywhere you want, especially in Hopkins County. It is sad that we can not get the tax money for that."

According to Welch, funds generated from medical marijuana prescription sales would "fund the Kentucky pension plan completely, plus money left over."

"It upsets me so badly, I can hardly stand it," she added.

As he waited for his turn with the congressman, Dawson Springs resident Daniel Payne said he believes medical marijuana could have saved his father, who died in 2014, from the pain of intracranial pressure.

"I know my dad would be alive right now if we had alternative medicine," he said. "Doctors had him hooked on so many different opioids, steroids and Lortabs -- at some point he became addicted. There is no medicine on the market that can reduce pressure like that, so eventually he had several strokes and medication overdoses. His liver shut down, his kidneys shut down and and he died.

"At the end, he was normally 350 pounds," Payne continued. "In six months or more, he got all the way down to 85 pounds. He couldn't even hold his head up. I believe if there were a medical alternative, he wouldn't have ended that way."

Ginger Hayes, of Earlington, suffers from painful spinal stenosis and non-diabetic neuropathy in her feet. There is currently no cure.

"I have taken everything for it, and I am allergic to a lot of pills," she said. "I don't sleep, I am up crying most of the night from the pain. I can't get any relief. If only I could get rid of some of this pain.

"I have 3- and 4-year-old grandchildren," she added. "I can't take them to the zoo. I can't do this with them, I can't do that with them. I have to have some relief."

Hayes' husband Tommy, a local pastor, visited City Hall with her to provide some positive support.

"We are praying this works out," he said. "Whatever it takes to get people well. (Medical marijuana) is not harmful to them, it doesn't make them crazy like drugs do."

To the congressman, overall legislation is a hard sell -- at least at the federal level. Comer, who is a staunch supporter of agricultural hemp and its declassification as a Schedule 1 narcotic under U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency policy, says there is simply not enough support for medical marijuana legalization across the board.

"There is a lot of opposition in the Trump administration and opposition in Congress," he said. "With hemp, there is support. We can get that through. I am very sympathetic toward the people, but the problem is the votes aren't there (for medical marijuana)."

There is still hope, however, for legalization on a statewide level.

"You have states where medical marijuana is legal if you have a prescription, and then there are states where it is not legal, like Kentucky and Tennessee," Comer said. "Theoretically, they can pass a bill in Frankfort. I don't think the votes are there, but the polls are better than you would think."

According to Welch, that's all the more reason for people to take advantage of any opportunity to reach out to their respective legislators and let their opinions be known.

"If we the people don't get out and do something, nothing will happen," she said. "I am an optimist. My husband says nothing is going to happen, that you can work your heart out but nothing is going to happen in Kentucky. I disagree. I think if you get enough people involved, we'll finally get it."

Comer's Madisonville branch is one of three offices in Southwestern Kentucky. The others are located in Paducah and Tompkinsville. On Friday, Comer met with residents from Hopkins, Union, Webster and Ohio counties.

"Next year, we are going to do this more," he said. "I'll say I am coming to Madisonville and anyone who wants to meet can schedule an appointment at my office."

By Laura Harvey
Madisonville Messenger


+2 #3 Now 2017-12-27 19:42
Like I said in a previous post, let’s do a side by side comparison between marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, pills, and hard drugs. Marijuana is far safer, less addictive, and way less costly to society. Alcohol related deaths, diseases, domestic violence, drunken mistakes, etc. Tobacco kills and addicts daily. We all know the opioid epidemic along with meth. California went medical in 1996 and absolutely zero deaths, so quit acting as though marijuana is something new to society, been around for thousands of years. Legalize it, the fear mongering over marijuana legalization is laughable.
+1 #2 Sick 2017-12-26 22:59
Now I know why I never got sick while growing up during the seventies. LOL
+4 #1 Lets Do It 2017-12-24 21:26
People, call, write/email your state representatives about this and voice your support!!! They will never do this until enough people show support for it!

Go to and use their "Contact your Legislators" feature. Its very easy, just enter your zip code and it will pretty much do it for you.

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