KENTUCKY — Starting Sunday, Kentuckians with certain medical conditions can legally possess medicinal marijuana — with several caveats.
It comes after Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed an order taking action on medical marijuana after legislation on the matter stalled several times in Frankfort.
What You Need To Know
- Medical marijuana will be narrowly legalized for many Kentuckians starting Sunday
- 37 states and Washington, D.C., including neighboring states Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, allow cannabis for medical use
- Polling suggests 90% of Kentucky adults support wide legalization of medical marijuana, Beshear said
- Only those with one of over 20 approved medical conditions can possess out-of-state medical marijuana, and they must carry proof
Beshear's executive action, signed Nov. 15, 2022, grants full pardons to those accused of marijuana possession so long as they meet several conditions:
- The marijuana must have been legally purchased in the U.S. Neighboring states Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and West Virginia currently allow sales of medical marijuana.
- Written proof of purchase, including date and location, must be on hand.
- The amount of medical cannabis possessed can't exceed eight ounces.
- The individual or their caregiver has to present written, certified proof of an eligible medical condition.
“Kentuckians suffering from chronic and terminal conditions are going to be able to get the treatment they need without living in fear of a misdemeanor,” Beshear said. “With 37 states already legalizing medical cannabis and 90% of Kentucky adults supporting it, I am doing what I can to provide access and relief to those who meet certain conditions and need it to better enjoy their life, without pain.”
While he heralded the action as a huge step forward, Beshear said it's not a substitute for medical cannabis being fully legal under state law. The governor said he would work with lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session to push for "full legalization of medical cannabis" which he said would bring relief for those suffering, fuel job growth in the state and help Kentucky's farmers.
Also starting Sunday, Jan. 1, Delta-8 THC will be regulated under state law for the first time. Delta 8 contains THC, but a lower level than marijuana.
Beshear said regulating Delta 8 could serve as a "template" for how the state could regulate medical cannabis, and prepare law enforcement and other agencies.
“Right now, there are no checks on how it is packaged and sold. We must establish a regulatory structure to ensure that Delta 8 is sold and purchased safely in the commonwealth,” Beshear said.
Rep. Jason Nemes (R, Louisville) and other Republicans have pushed back against Gov. Beshear’s order, saying he doesn't have the authority.
“The governor, no matter how much I agree with the issue, no matter how much one thinks a particular issue is good, they can’t just wipe out statutes,” said Nemes.
Nemes said he is working with the Senate on a bill and is hopeful 2023 will be the year it passes. The legislative session begins Jan. 3, 2023.