Kentucky Makes Medical Marijuana Licensing Faster

It’s looking more likely that patients in Kentucky will soon have access to medical cannabis starting January 2025. The state government is working to speed up the process, aiming to issue licences to businesses earlier than expected.

The medical cannabis program in Kentucky was established by Senate Bill 47 in 2023, set to kick off on January 1, 2025. However, the original plan meant that cannabis growers couldn’t start planting until they were licensed that same year. This delay would have meant dispensaries might not have had cannabis ready for patients until later in the year.

Now, with the passing of House Bill 829, things are changing. The new law allows businesses to apply for licences to grow, process, and sell cannabis as early as this summer. The bill received strong support from both sides of the political spectrum, although only Republicans voted against it.

Republican Sen. Stephen West, who was also the lead author of SB 47, explained that the aim was to ensure there would be enough cannabis ready for patients as soon as it became legal. This means businesses can start growing the product early so that it’s available right from the start of 2025.

The new bill, HB 829, also respects the decisions of local governments. It allows city and county governments to choose whether or not they want to participate in the medical cannabis program. They can choose not to participate by the end of 2024, canceling any licenses given in their areas. Local governments can cancel licenses until 2025.

Businesses hoping to get licenses will need to wait for the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program to release its final regulations on licensing applications, expected before July. The bill also gives priority to Kentucky-based growers who are already licensed hemp growers in good standing with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

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