Medical Marijuana Will Soon be Legal in Kentucky | Dinsmore & Shohl LLP

On March 31, 2023, Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 making medical marijuana use and sale legal in Kentucky, effective January 1, 2025. [i] Kentucky now joins at least 37 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. The newest piece of legislation comes on the heels of Governor Beshear signing two executive orders related to cannabis in November of 2022. The first executive order, which took effect January 1, 2023, allows certain Kentuckians and their caregivers to bring medical marijuana into the state, or use it, without facing legal consequences as long as they meet certain requirements. The other executive order involves the regulation of Delta 8 THC. You can find information on the two executive orders in a recent law alert published by Dinsmore attorneys here.

Senate Bill 47 states that medical marijuana can be prescribed by a licensed practitioner for a list of qualified medical conditions. The list includes any type or form of cancer, chronic or severe pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic nausea. The Kentucky Center for Cannabis may identify other medical conditions or diseases as long as sufficient scientific data and evidence exists to demonstrate that an individual diagnosed with that condition or disease is likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits from the use of medicinal cannabis.

In order for a practitioner to issue an initial written certification for medical cannabis, the practitioner must conduct an initial in-person visit with the patient. For the initial written certification, a telehealth consultation is not allowed. Patients who meet the criteria will have to apply for a registry identification card, and a written certification of the registration will be valid for sixty (60) days. The certification can be renewed by the practitioner up to three (3) times for no more than sixty (60) days each. After this, another in-person evaluation or an evaluation conducted via telehealth must be conducted before another certification can be reissued.

There are limitations on types of medical cannabis individuals can use. Smoking marijuana will still be prohibited, and home cultivation is currently not allowed. Patients will be able to access raw cannabis for vaporization and to extract the juices from the raw cannabis plant. Patients will also have access to edibles. There will be a 35% THC cap on flower marijuana products and 70% cap for concentrated products. For edibles, there is a maximum potency of 10 milligrams per serving. Patients will also be able to possess a thirty (30) day supply of cannabis in their residence and a ten (10) day supply on their person.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will be in charge of implementation, operation, oversight, and regulation of the medical cannabis program. Also, a nine person Board of Physicians and Advisors consisting of seven physicians and two advanced practice registered nurses will be appointed to help review and recommend regulations. Regulations need to be established and finalized by January 1, 2024. Senate Bill 47 is set to go into effect in 2025, and until then, the two executive orders signed by Governor Beshear from November 2022 will remain in effect.

This is a new frontier for Kentucky, and there are bound to be new developments and questions that arise.

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