Kentucky governor Andrew Graham Beshar (D) has signed a bill to legalize medical cannabis, making the state the 38th in the U.S. to do so.
Beshear, a proponent of the legislation (SB 47) sponsored by Sen. Stephen West (R), encouraged his constituents to appeal to their state representatives to pass the bill.
“Far too many of our people face the obstacle of having chronic or terminal diseases like cancer, or those like our veterans suffering from PTSD or Kentuckians living with epilepsy, seizures, Parkinson’s or more,” Beshear said in a press conference. “These folks want and deserve safe and effective methods of treatment.”
Beshear also recently signed a measure into law that will regulate sales of delta-8 THC products.
West cited the opioid epidemic ravaging Kentucky as a significant factor motivating him to legalize medical cannabis.
“One of the prime reasons I sponsored this bill and moved it along is addiction. Other states that have adopted this have seen not only a 20-30% reduction in opioid use, but also a 20 or 30% reduction in drug addiction,” West said at a press briefing.
“If you haven’t looked, Kentucky has a severe addiction problem, and I think Senate Bill 47 and medical marijuana can be part of the solution.”
Kentucky will not collect sales and excise taxes on medical cannabis.
“Today is an incredible victory for Kentucky,” said Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director of Kentucky NORML, who attended this morning’s signing ceremony.
“For years, Kentuckians have been calling for medical cannabis legalization, and now they will have the freedom to access regulated, therapeutic products right here at home safely. While there is still work to be done, this is a historic step, and we look forward to continuing our work representing Kentucky patients.”
Mr. Elliot Lane, Head of Benzinga’s Cannabis & Psychedelics departments and organizer of the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, said, “As a person raised in Kentucky, raised hearing the words ‘bourbon’ and ‘tobacco’ but never hearing ‘marijuana’ unless in a demonizing fashion, this turn of events is an incredible update! It goes to show that the work from industry participants and activists for decades has been worth the massive effort. There is still a ways to go, but this is huge!”
What SB 47 will provide:
- Senate Bill 47 directs the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to implement a medical cannabis access program. Under the plan, patients with chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress, spasticity, and other designated conditions that the Kentucky Center for Cannabis deems appropriate may obtain an uninterrupted 30-day supply of medical cannabis.
- The bill further adds, “A registered qualified patient or visiting qualified patient who uses medicinal cannabis shall be afforded all the same rights under state and local law … as the individual would have been afforded if he or she were solely prescribed pharmaceutical medications as they pertain to drug testing required by any state or local law.”
- Patients may obtain medical cannabis with a doctor’s or advanced nurse practitioner’s recommendation. The state Board of Physicians and State Board of Nursing will be responsible for certifying medical practitioners to recommend cannabis.
- Qualified patients who test positive for carboxy-THC on a urine drug test “shall not be considered under the influence.”
- Patients cannot face discrimination with respect to medical procedures (e.g., organ transplants), child visitation, or school enrollment solely due to their medical cannabis patient status.
- Vaporization (“vaping”) of cannabis will be permissible.
- THC cannot exceed 35% for raw bud, 70% for concentrates, and 10 milligrams per serving for edibles.
- Patients can possess a 30-day supply of cannabis at home and carry a 10-day supply.
- Requires hospital emergency departments to report cases of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control.
What SB 47 will not provide:
- Home cultivation or “home grow” will not be allowed.
- Smoking cannabis will be prohibited.
A cannabis legislative information session was held as far back as February 15, 2018, at the Pulaski County Public Library. Regulations will need to be finalized for implementation by Jan. 1, 2024.