The Kentucky General Assembly gave final passage to a bipartisan bill to legalize medicinal cannabis in the Commonwealth on Thursday, and Gov. Andy Beshear has already signed it into law. However, it will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2025.
The House approved the legislation with a 66-33 vote on Thursday. It passed the Senate with a 26-11 vote earlier this month. Local State Representatives DJ Johnson and Suzanne Miles voted in favor of the bill, while State Senator Gary Boswell voted in opposition.
Beshear signed the bill Friday morning.
“In November, I signed an executive order to help Kentuckians with certain medical conditions, like our veterans suffering from PTSD, find safe and effective relief through medical cannabis,” Gov. Beshear said. “Now, I am finally able to sign this legislation into law and fully legalize medical cannabis – something the majority of Kentuckians support.”
SB 47 establishes a structure to regulate the medical cannabis program, including dispensaries, cultivators, practitioners, processors and products and issuing identification cards to patients and caregivers.
One provision of the bill makes it illegal for medicinal cannabis users to smoke the substance, but vaping would be allowed for users over the age of 21.
Under SB 47, individuals diagnosed with cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, muscle spasms, chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder could receive prescriptions for medicinal cannabis. The bill also permits the Kentucky Center for Cannabis Research to add medical conditions and diseases to the list.
Additionally, those seeking to cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes must obtain special permits. Doctors and nurse practitioners would also need a special license to prescribe, and dispensaries would need a special license to distribute.
Minors could receive prescriptions for cannabis, but caretakers would be responsible for managing and administering the prescription, he added.
On Nov. 15, 2022, the Governor issued an executive order providing access to medical cannabis for Kentuckians who suffer from at least one of 21 medical conditions. These conditions include cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscular dystrophy and terminal illness, as well as others.
That executive order remains in effect.