OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear’s decision to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky has received criticism. There have been a host of voices who are dismissive of marijuana as a medicine.

However, for many people, the prospect of an alternative way to manage pain without opioids is an attractive and life altering possibility.

Owensboro native April Henderson has dealt with chronic pain for 25 years. She suffered severe injuries that left her struggling to do things most people see as routine, such as getting out of bed, driving, or walking across the house. After two decades of taking various opioids with little positive effect. Henderson is excited for the chance to try a natural alternative.

“I’ve tried about everything there is to try – and I don’t want to be drugged in la-la land…or anything like that. I just want relief for my pain – and I feel like as a human, I deserve to have relief from my pain,” says Henderson.

Initially, Henderson encountered difficulties getting her medical card through Owensboro Health after being told she qualified. Thanks to her persistence, she was finally granted a medical card last week.

“The biggest relief came over me because I have heard nothing but wonderful things and I thought ‘Oh My Gosh!’, there is something out there to give me pain relief,” Henderson says.

Owensboro Health said in a statement that they will issue qualifying patients cards, and it will not be treated as contraband for eligible patients.

There are still issues with availability, as no system has been set up for retail purchasing. For now, patients are forced to cross state lines to purchase the medicine they need, or seek legal alternatives extracted from hemp that were legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“People will abuse things whether there is a right way for someone like me to be able to get it or not – because without having permission to get it, I would never do it on my own. I mean, I’m not one that breaks the law,” says Henderson.

With this new law, across the river Indiana police are in a difficult position as they need to enforce Indiana laws on the books. However, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Noah Robinson says his deputies can use discretion on the matter and prioritize greater threats to public safety.

“Fentanyl, opiates like heroin, methamphetamine; those are the primary enforcement areas. We are trying to stop drugs that are killing people. I don’t have as much concern about marijuana. We are going to do enforcement, but it’s not a priority,” says Robinson, who acknowledges concerns about trafficking across state lines.

Henderson hopes that the law will help keep people away from those same opioids, something she is all too familiar with.

“Fentanyl, they were getting these people with the fentanyl, and I said ‘Oh My Gosh!’ That’s what I take. Just don’t be so hard to judge why people are doing things. Not everyone is out there trying to get high or get drugs for no reasons,” says Henderson.

The issue with the lack of retail stores is expected to be addressed in future legislative sessions.