The state of Kentucky has seen significant strides towards the legalization and regulation of medical cannabis. In a historic move, on March 31, 2023, Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47, legalizing medical cannabis for Kentuckians with severe medical conditions. This act, reflected in Chapter 146, marks a pivotal shift in the state’s approach to medical cannabis, allowing legal purchases to be made in states where such transactions are regulated.
However, the journey towards legalization has been a careful and considerate process. Prior to the signing of the bill, Governor Beshear established the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee. In June 2022, the committee was tasked with traveling across the state to gather public opinion on medical cannabis legalization. The overwhelming consensus, reported on September 30, 2022, was that Kentucky needed to act on legalizing medical cannabis.
Understanding the specifics of the new regulations is crucial. Kentuckians are required to purchase cannabis legally within the United States, retaining receipts as proof of purchase. Notably, the possession limit is capped at 8 ounces—a quantity delineation between misdemeanor and felony charges in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program has laid out several provisions to aid those in need. For example, parents seeking medical cannabis for their children’s ailments no longer face the dilemma of breaking state law upon their return to Kentucky. This was a significant concern, particularly highlighted by the struggles of military veterans and individuals with PTSD who found relief through cannabis use.
Governor Beshear’s executive order, 2022-798, however, has limitations. It applies solely to the state crime of marijuana possession and does not extend to federal law or the laws of other states. This means that while the order provides some protections within Kentucky, it does not sanction the growth or sale of cannabis in the state, nor does it protect individuals transporting cannabis across state lines or by air travel.
The efforts have been recognized at the federal level, with regulations being amended to exempt medicinal cannabis from the excise tax on marijuana, reflecting the state’s acknowledgement of its medicinal value.
This narrative around Kentucky’s journey toward medical cannabis legalization is accompanied by further details and resources, which can be explored through the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program’s official page, the announcements by Governor Andy Beshear, and legislative documents.