Beshear Scores High Marks on Cannabis Reform Scorecard

Newly elected Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear scored the second-highest grade among governors in the southeastern United States on the 2020 Gubernatorial Scorecard issued by a national cannabis reform group.

Beshear, a Democrat, received a B- on a scorecard released last week by NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Beshear’s grade was second in the southeast to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s B+ mark.

Beshear received a high score from the cannabis advocacy group, who cited comments the former state Attorney General made during his successful candidacy in 2019.

“I support placing medical marijuana legalization on the ballot as a constitutional amendment and would vote in its favor. I would vote for it because I’ve seen the impact opioids have had on every Kentucky community,” Beshear said. “So many Kentucky families have seen a loved one fall into addiction, and their lives have been devastated. If medical marijuana is an alternative and gives people the chance to get pain relief without being subjected to opioids, I think it’s something we’ve got to explore.”

Beshear narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin in November. Bevin’s NORML report card score in previous years was a D.

Progress toward cannabis legalization has been made in the Bluegrass State, as the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved HB136, which would legalize medical cannabis. The bill moves to the full House next.

“While Governor Beshear hasn’t had the opportunity to implement much in the way of cannabis reform, he has signaled his support for HB136/SB107 and if the bill passes both Houses we fully expect him to sign it into law,” said Matthew Bratcher, executive director of the Kentucky chapter of NORML.

In the southeast, Beshear’s score was second highest in the region. Governors from Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana – two Republicans and one Democrat – scored a C-. Every other southeastern governor received a D or F score.

Nationally, Democrats scored higher than their Republican counterparts on the scorecard, with only Democrats earning A grades with 96 percent of Democratic governors earning at least a C. Comparatively, 37 percent of Republican governors earned a C or above, while eight received an F.

Thirty-two U.S. governors received a passing 2020 grade of C or higher (22 Democrats and 10 Republicans), up from 27 governors earning passing marks in 2019.

“Political support among US governors for marijuana policy reform continues to grow. However, this support is more partisan than ever before,” NORML report authors wrote on its website. ”No Republicans are on record in support of adult-use legalization and few are in favor of regulating medical cannabis access. By contrast, a large percentage of Democrats are supportive of both issues. This partisan divide is not similarly reflected among the general public.”

There are 26 Republican governors and 24 Democratic governors in the U.S.


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