Medicinal marijuana law differs from program created by executive order

Sales to qualified patients will begin in 2025
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Medical marijuana is now legal in Kentucky, with sales beginning in 2025.

Governor Andy Beshear signed the bill into law Friday, but the law differs from the smaller program created by Beshear’s executive order.

Access to the drug is the biggest difference. Right now, patients can only buy medical marijuana out of state. This law changes that.

“It’s not feasibly for people to be driving for hours outside of the state, to access their medicine, we don’t do that for any other type of medication,” said Darby Cook, owner of Kentucky Cannabis Clinic.

Her clinic connects patients to state licensed doctors who will recommend marijuana. The number of qualifying medical conditions in the law is fewer than Beshear’s executive order. But Cook said it’s a good start.

“The bill does include chronic pain, and that’s one of the most common reasons people are trying to use medical marijuana,” said Cook.

The state now needs to implement the law. Key sponsor State Representative Jason Nemes (R-Louisville) said that’s why the law doesn’t start until 2025.

“We’ve got to put the regulations in place and then the businesses will apply, we have to get product that’s grown in Kentucky in Kentucky soil,” said Nemes.

Qualified patients will be allowed to have a 30 day supply in their home, and will be allowed to carry a 10 day supply with them. Rules around licenses will need to be hashed out over the next year and a half.

“Make sure we get it right, but make sure we get it done,” said Nemes.

The law does not limit the number of cultivators and dispensaries, but we don’t know yet how difficult the state will make it for businesses to get those licenses. Cook said Kentucky has a lot of examples to look at.

“Kentucky is lucky in one regard, they get to watch 30 plus other states implement medical or adult use marijuana programs, so they have a lot of evidence and experience they can draw upon,” said Cook.

Kentucky will not allow medical marijuana patients to smoke the drug. Lawmakers believed that was a step too close to allowing recreational use.