The governor of Kentucky has signed a medical marijuana bill into law, just one day after the measure was passed by the state House of Representatives.
In the run up to the House vote on the Senate-approved bill, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) had taken to Twitter to urge lawmakers to approve the reform and encouraged Kentucky residents to do the same.
Legislators return on Wednesday and they will have a chance to finally pass medical cannabis. I strongly urge them to do so, and you should encourage them too.
Contact your representative and ask them to pass medical cannabis for Kentuckians in need.
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) March 27, 2023
“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 at the signing ceremony. “These folks want and deserve safe and effective methods of treatment.”
Prior attempts at reforming Kentucky’s marijuana laws to allow its medical use had been led by the House only for the Senate to block any further passage. This time, with the Senate taking the lead, marijuana reform advocates had been confident that the reform’s time had finally come.
The bill’s sponsors, Sen. Stephen West (R), welcomed the measure’s passage into law as urgent given Kentucky’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis.
“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 percent reduction in opioid use, but also a 20 or 30 percent reduction in drug addiction,” said West at a press conference following the signing ceremony. “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.”
Several of the failed House-led medical marijuana bills were sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes (D), who responded to the bill’s passage into law by saying that “there are thousands and thousands of Kentuckians who just want to be, and want to feel better—and this will help them with that.”
Here’s how Kentucky’s new medical cannabis law – SB 47 – will reform the state’s marijuana laws:
- Patients with a medical condition including cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder or any other ailment deemed appropriate for medical marijuana treatment by the Kentucky Center for Cannabis are permitted to use marijuana upon receipt of a doctor or advanced nurse practitioner’s recommendation.
- Smoking cannabis will remain prohibited, but patients may still access raw flower for vaping.
- Home cultivation will remain prohibited.
- Patients are permitted to possess up to a 30-day supply of marijuana at home, and a 10-day supply when in public.
- Recommendations for medical cannabis use must be based on an initial in-person visit, and patient registration will only last for 60 days.
- Medical cannabis products will be exempt from excise and sales taxes.
- The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services will be responsible for governing the medical cannabis program, including the establishment of regulations and issuance of business licenses.
- There will be three tiers of cultivator license categories, as well as licenses for producers, processors, testing facilities, and dispensaries.
- Local authorities will be able to opt out of allowing medical marijuana businesses from operating in their jurisdictions, but this can be overruled by a citizen-led petition.
The new law further stipulates that medical marijuana regulations must be in place by July 1, 2024, at the latest, and that the main provisions of the medical cannabis law will take effect on January 1, 2025.