Possibility of cannabis business operations in Clark County included on November ballot

Published 11:30 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

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This upcoming November, many are focused on the presidential race. 

However, Clark County will have another initiative on the ballot. 

As the Clark County Fiscal Court recently discussed, voters will have a chance to decide on a referendum determining whether cannabis business operations may occur in Clark County. 

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The Court passed an order on June 5. 

According to the order, the Kentucky General Assembly on April 15 adopted House Bill 829, which Governor Andy Beshear signed into law on April 17. This bill amends KRS Ch. 218B, the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Chapter. 

This bill allows local governments to choose different courses of action regarding the future sale of cannabis.

According to the order, “KRS 218.130 authorizes local governments to pass resolutions directing that the question of prohibiting cannabis businesses from operating within its territory be submitted to the voters of its territory at the next regular election.”

At the May 23 and June 5 meetings, Magistrate Ernest Pasley spoke on the urgency of taking action before July 1.

“There are some dates that fall upon counties. One of those dates to take action is by July 1,” he stated. “If the county does not act by July 1, state law applies. We have to take it upon this body to take action to do some action, or else we’re bound by state law and what applies to our county…we have no say in it forward.” 

After discussing numerous options that are eligible to be considered, magistrates at the May 23 meeting declared that making it an issue voters can choose was a suggestible option. 

“There’s people on both sides of [the argument]. I say put it in voters’ hands,” said Magistrate Dan Konstantopulos. 

At the June 5 meeting, Magistrate Chris Davis sought to provide clarification. 

“Just so the public knows, the only thing we’re considering is putting it on the ballot,” he said.

However, not all were in agreement on what should take place. 

Magistrate Robert Blanton spoke. 

“To me, this is just another layer of bureaucracy for businesses and people to deal with…If [operating business is] legal and the legislature says we can do it, we need to go ahead and let it take effect,” he said. “More importantly, the agenda that was out there…was incorrect. By all rights, we really ought to table this to get a published agenda out in time so people can actually [be aware].” 

While discussion about tabling the item took place, it was ultimately decided by a 4-1 vote, with Magistrate Robert Blanton dissenting, to approve the motion for voters to have a chance to decide on the referendum. 

Magistrates Dan Konstantopoulos and Mark Miller were not present. 

Judge Yates voted in the affirmative but spoke about some concerns. 

“I don’t really think the public is aware that this is going on. I think it is their decision,” he said. “I would like to have more time to make sure we get that [information] out to the public…there will be a large voter turnout. It’ll be in front of a lot of people. So, that’s why I voted yes, reluctantly.”