What does new medical cannabis law mean for Kentuckians?

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) – For some advocates, it’s been nearly 10 years since they started working towards legalizing medical cannabis in Kentucky.

Friday morning, Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 making medical marijuana use and sale legal in the state starting in 2025.

What exactly does that mean for Kentuckians?

Kentucky now joins 37 other states that have enacted medical marijuana access.

“They have 37 other states to look at that have done this before. They’re not reinventing the wheel, and they don’t need to try,” said Matthew Bratcher, executive director of Kentucky NORML. “It’s all out there so we’ll figure out what works for us as a state.”

There’s still some blanks that need to be filled in. There are no specific fees for licenses and no specific regulations for dosages. These will need to be decided by a board through the Cabinet of Health and Family Services before it goes into effect.

However, for people like Eric Crawford, who have been advocating for medical cannabis for the last 10 years, the signing of SB 47 was a relief.

“I know what we’ve been doing over the last 10 years, it’s been hard but all this arguing and stuff, over time it’s worth it. It’s not done yet, but it’s a law. So, it’s a great thing,” said Crawford.

Advocates would like to add more conditions to the list and provide people with better access. The steps to getting medical cannabis start with receiving a referral or prescription from your licensed doctor, then going to a dispensary.

“As of today, it’s raw flower material is still available. Because it’s more than just rolling it up and smoking it. You can vaporize it. It has a whole lot less carcinogens. You can also juice it. So, for a lot of patients, juicing the whole plant of cannabis is a big deal and can make a difference,” said Bratcher.

Sponsors of the bill spoke highly about the work that’s been put into this all session long.

“If you’re on the list, of one of the qualifying conditions, cancer, epilepsy, MS, PTSD, and others, you will have a second option. You will not have to rely on opioids,” said Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Paris.

Governor Beshear says his executive order allowing people suffering from some conditions to obtain medical cannabis out of state will remain in place until the program starts in 2025.

He says his goal is to be ready by next January and pass another statute to speed up the process.

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