FRANKFORT, Ky. — Surrounded by longtime supporters of the legislation, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed two bills into law Friday, legalizing medical cannabis and sports betting. 

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Andy Beshear signed bills legalizing medical cannabis and sports betting into law Friday 

  • Lawmakers passed the measures Thursday 

  • Thursday marked the final day of the legislative session

  • The laws take effect at a later date 

Eric Crawford breathed a sigh of relief at the governor’s signature. 

Cannabis has eased the pain and spasms he’s suffered from a car accident, he said, and he has fought for this day for 10 years. 

“We did it,” said Crawford Friday. “It’s done. Victory. People are going to get relief. People won’t be criminals.”

Senate Bill 47, which won’t take effect til 2025, will allow people with certain medical conditions to use, but not smoke, cannabis.

Rep. Jason Nemes (R, Louisville), who filed similar legislation that stalled last year, said he was filled with emotion.

“There are, Governor, as you know, thousands and thousands of Kentuckians who just want to be and want to feel better,” he said. “And this will help them with that.” 

The governor also signed House Bill 551 into law, to legalize sports betting.

Nearly every state that borders Kentucky has already done so. 

“I hope to make the first bet here in Kentucky,” said Beshear. 

Passage of the legislation, which was also years in the making, was still in doubt until the last day of session. 

“We did not have the votes,” said Sen. Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R, Georgetown) Thursday night. “What changed is President Stivers moved from his position of ambivalence to a strong yes vote and that then, I think, gave confidence to a couple of other members.”  

The governor’s office says the law will go into effect in late June and generate an estimated revenue increase of $23 million a year.

Thursday marked the last day of Kentucky’s 30-day legislative session. 

Lawmakers are adjourned until next January, unless the governor calls a special session.